Puma

The puma is known by over 40 different names – more than any other species in the animal world.

ANIMAL FACTS

These wild cats have an amazing ability to jump, thanks to their powerful hind legs. They can leap horizontally up to 12 m (40 ft), may spring up to 5.5 m (18 ft) into the air, and are adept at climbing. Their athletic prowess also includes sprinting over short distances at speeds of up to 55 kph (34 mph). Pumas have the biggest range of any land animal in the Americas, but in heavily populated areas, such as around Vancouver, they have been known to attack people.

VITAL STATISTICS

Distribution: Ranges from western Canada down through the western USA (with a small population in Florida), right across Central America and virtually all of South America.

Weight: Females 34 – 48 kg (75 – 105 lb); males 53 – 72 (115 – 160 lb).

Length: 152 – 274 cm (60 – 108 in), including tail; up to 76 cm (30 in) tall.

Maturity: 18 – 36 months.

Gestation Period: 91 days.

Breeding: Average 2 – 3, but can be up to 56; weaning occurs at 90 days.

Food: Carnivorous, hunting mainly medium-sized prey, including livestock.

Lifespan: Probably 8 – 10 years; up to 20 in captivity.

Eyes

These are directed forwards, helping the puma pinpoint the position of its prey with great accuracy.

Face

The face is rounded and the neck is very muscular.

Paws

Five retractible claws on each front foot help the puma maintain its balance when jumping or climbing.

Ears

The ears are large and positioned high on the head, giving good visibility.

Young pumas have spotted coats.

CAUGHT UNAWARES

Pumas try to ambush prey — often deer — rather than pursuing it. They move very quietly, making use of any available cover.

Gallery of Puma