PUMA

Scientific Name: concolor costaricensis


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Pumas hunt their prey during the nighttime. They’re eyes are specially adapted to help them see in the dark. After a cougar has eaten its fill, it will bury the remains of the kill and save it for a later date!

Pumas are also called cougars, panthers, or mountain lions. That’s right, they’re all the same animal. Only the jaguar is larger than the cougar in the Western Hemisphere.

Other than humans, pumas are the most widely distributed land mammal in the Western Hemisphere. Pumas range from northwestern Canada to southern Chile in South America.

Like other large cats, pumas can Inhabit a variety of ecosystems. They are just as comfortable in the dry deserts as they are in the lush tropical rainforests.

Adult males can grow to be up to 9 feet long (including their tail). Female pumas are a bit smaller, but can still reach lengths of 7 feet. Male cougars weigh approximately 150-230 pounds, while the females 80-130 pounds.

Since pumas are such large cats (the only cat larger in Costa Rica is the Jaguar), they need to eat a lot. Pumas choose to hunt during the night time, and they eat just about anything that they come across. They prey on a wide range of large and small mammals including deer and other hoofed animals, raccoon, rabbits and rodents, birds and invertebrates.


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Pumas, mountain lions, cougars, and panthers are all the same animal. They are found in many areas of the western hemisphere from northern Canada to southern South America.


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From a sitting position, pumas have been observed jumping 18 feet onto a tree branch. They can leap horizontally 40 feet !

Pumas require large areas to hunt. An individual puma has a set area where other pumas won’t enter. A male puma’s range could be over 200 square miles. Therefore, pumas are greatly affected by habitat destruction.

All over the world, pumas are endangered species. Their furs have been hunted for centuries, and often they compete for the same food sources that humans do. Farmers and livestock ranchers often kill pumas, because the puma threatens the farmer’s animals.

The removal of pumas, however, has a negative effect on the natural cycle of the rainforest. Where pumas are eliminated, populations of prey animals (such as deer) get too big for the land to accommodate. As prey numbers increase, vegetation is soon overgrazed. As adequate food supplies diminish, deer and other prey animals starve at massive levels. At the human level, animals that were once eaten by pumas and other predators destroy crops. If the world were to lose the puma it would have impacts all over the world.

Dave Freeman is the Executive Director of the Wilderness Classroom. Dave and Amy Freeman have traveled over 30,000 miles by kayak, canoe and dogsled through some of the world’s wildest places. National Geographic named the Dave and Amy Adventurers of the Year in 2014.

When the Freemans aren’t on expeditions or conducting school assemblies, they guide canoe, kayak and dogsled trips.

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