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Range Map
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MAMMALS » LARGE
Cougar

Cougar
Puma concolor

Historically, the Cougar could be found roaming all across Tennesseee and was considered the most widely distributed land mammal in the Western Hemisphere. It was believed that persecution and loss of their preferred isolated and undisturbed habitat, it was believed that they had been eliminated in Tennessee and across much of their original range in the eastern U.S. However much to our surprise in the fall of 2015 there were mulitple confimed sighting in TN. Cougars are also known by the names Mountain Lion and Puma.

Description
: A large, sleek cat with a small head; small, rounded ears that are not tufted; powerful legs and shoulders; large feet; and a long, cylindrical tail. The short, coarse fur is a solid tawny or grayish-brown with a buffy-white mix on the belly. The sides of the muzzle, backs of the ears, and tip of the tail are black. The chin, throat, and front of the muzzle are white. They have sharply curved claws that can be retracted.
Length: 60 - 102 inches
Tail: 21 - 35 inches
Ears: 3 - 4 inches
Weight: 90 - 160 pounds

Similar Species:
Bobcats are smaller, spotted with black, and have very short tails.

Habitat
: Cougars occupied a wide range of habitats, but preferred dense cover or rocky, rugged, mountainous areas in areas with low human densities.

Diet:
Primarily feeds on deer; they will also eat other mammals such as coyotes, raccoons, rabbits, and mice. Occasionally birds and insects are eaten.

Breeding information:
Females generally breed every other year, but Cougars can breed anytime throughout the year. Litters of 1-6 (usually 2-3) kittens are born in dens, which usually are rocky crevices, rock shelters, hollow trees or logs, caves, or brushy areas. The blind newborns are buffy spotted with black and have black rings on their tails. They begin to hunt with the mother at 2 months old; and can stay with her until they are 1 to 2 years old.

Status in Tennessee:
Cougars in TN are a rare and infrequent sighting. However there were mulitple confirmed sightings in the fall of 2015.

Fun Facts
:

  • Cougars, which still reside in the western U.S., will readily climb trees to locate prey or escape danger.

Best places to see in Tennessee: Hard to pinpoint since they wander huge territories.

For more information:

Sources:
Schwartz, C.W. and E.R. Schwartz. 2001. The Wild Mammals of Missouri, 2nd Edition. University of Missouri Press and Missouri Department of Conservation, Columbia, MO.