Cougar (Puma)
(Puma concolor) #60-206

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Physical characteristics and distribution

The Cougar (Puma) is the largest of the small cats. It is roughly the size of leopard with a very long slender body. The head is round and small with brown eyes. The head and body length for the mountain lion ranges from 966-1,959 mm. The tail length ranges from 534-784 mm, and the weight is 36-103 kg.

Cougars are agile and have great jumping power. They can leap up to 5.5 meters, usually jumping from the ground to a tree. They can also swim well, but prefer to stay out of the water. The most acute sense that they have is sight; hearing is also good, but they have a poorer sense of smell. Cougars hunt over a large area, sometimes taking a week to complete a circuit of its home range. Cougars will prey on most species of mammals but prefer to prey on inferior or less fit individuals. American mountain lions carefully stalks it's prey and may leap upon the victims back or seize it after a swift dash. The most consistently important food is deer in North America. The diet also includes other ungulates, beaver, porcupines and hares. The kill is usually dragged to a sheltered spot and then partly consumed. Uneaten parts are partially hidden and visited later.

Cougars are solitary and territorial animals with individuals deliberately avoiding one another except during brief period of courtship. Males spend a lot of time marking their territory but don't defend it. Vocalizations include growls, hisses and birdlike whistles. A very loud scream has been reported, but is function is not known.

There is no specific breeding season, but most births in North America occur in late winter and early spring. Females give birth every other year. Estrus lasts about 9 days, and the gestation period is 90-96 days. Litter size is one to six. Mating season is year round, but most births occur in late winter and early spring in North America. Young are born in protected dens in caves, under ledges or roots. By nature, pumas are active both day and night. They have become strictly nocturnal in areas inhabited by their enemies, humans and wolves.

Their numbers have been greatly reduced by cattle ranchers. It inhabits mountainous coniferous forests, lowland tropical forests, swamps, grassland, and dry country, or any area with sufficient food and cover. There is usually no fixed den, except as used by females to rear young. Temporary shelter is taken in such places as dense vegetation, rocky crevices, and caves.

They are located in Argentina, Belize, Bolivia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Columbia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Paraguay, Peru, Suriname, USA, Uruguay and Venezuela.

Description of the brain

Animal source and preparation
All specimens collected followed the same preparation and histological procedure.

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