The cougar — also known as the puma, mountain lion, panther or catamount — is a large cat of the Felidae family native to the Americas. It has the most extensive range of any large wild terrestrial mammal in the Western Hemisphere, stretching from the Yukon territory in Canada to the southern tip of the Andes Mountains in South America. It is also the second heaviest cat in the Western Hemisphere, after the jaguar.
Cougars are usually solitary and nocturnal. They prey on deer, elk, moose and bighorn sheep, as well as domestic cattle, horses and sheep, but it can also hunt insects and rodents. While it prefers habitats with rocky areas and dense underbrush for stalking, the cougar can also live in open areas.
Adult cougars stand about 24 to 35 inches tall at the shoulders. Adult males are approximately 7.9 feet long (nose to tail) and weigh between 115 and 220 pounds, while females stand 6.7 feet tall and average 64 to 141 pounds in weight. They are known to make different sounds such as screams, low-pitched hisses, growls, purrs, chirps and whistles.
The color of the fur is plain. The coat is usually tawny, but it can also be a silvery-gray or reddish color, with lighter patches on the underbody.
Their paws have four retractable claws and one dewclaw each and are very large. Cougars also have the largest hind legs in the cat family, allowing them to leap as high as 18 feet in one bound and as far as 40-45 feet horizontally. Cougars can run at a speed of 40-50 miles per hour, but it is best adapted for short, powerful sprints instead of long chases. Their climbing ability allows them to escape their canine rivals, and they are able to swim.