Pumas - Everything You Need to Know | The Big Cat Sanctuary

A guide to Pumas

Everything you need to know

What is a puma?

A puma is the largest of the small cat species. The puma (Puma concolor) has more names than almost every other mammal and this is because they have such a huge range and so different populations of humans have learned to call these animals different things. They hold a Guinness World Record for “animal with the most number of names” such as Cougar, Mountain lion, Florida panther, catamount, and many more! 


What does a puma look like?

The puma is classed as the largest of all small cats, with a powerful and muscular body, strong jaw, long tail and flat face. The puma has the longest hind legs in relation to the body size of any cat which makes it well-designed for reaching high speeds. Pumas also have retractable claws and patches of white on their face. 


How big is a puma?

Adult male pumas can grow between an average of 6 to 8 feet long and females can average between 5 to 7 feet. Males can typically weigh around 50kg to 80kg and females can weigh around 35kg to 60kg. 


How far can a puma jump?

Pumas have the largest hind legs of any species in the cat family, which helps them to leap large distances. They can reach heights of 5.4 metres in a single leap, or horizontally they can cover distances of between 6 – 12 metres.


What family does the puma belong to?

The Puma is a member of the puma lineage which falls under the Felidae family.


Are pumas nocturnal?

The puma is a nocturnal animal which means they are active during the night and is also likely to be active at dawn and at dusk. Although pumas tend to be more active at night, they are sometimes seen during the day. 


Are pumas endangered?

Pumas are classified as ‘Near Threatened’ by the IUCN. Unfortunately, although pumas aren’t threatened in the wild by other animals, they are at risk due to human activity, including habitat loss, hunting, and road collisions.


How many pumas are left in the world?

The total breeding population has declined below 50,000 and continues to decline. 


How fast can a Puma run?

Pumas are extremely athletic and are built for sprinting. They can run up to 50 mph (80 kph) over a short distance. The puma doesn’t have any natural predators in the wild. However, some pumas will have to compete for prey with large powerful predators including wolves and black and brown bears.


What colour is a puma?

Pumas have plain coloured fur that ranges anywhere from a reddish brown colour, to silver grey or tawny. The colour of the fur can be dependent on either the season or where the puma lives. The underside of the cat is lighter with the long tail commonly having a black tip. Young pumas can have spots or stripes, but they fade out as they grow. 


What does a puma eat?

Pumas are ambush predators and eat a wide variety of prey. A puma will eat any animal it can catch, its main diet consist of deer, horses, elk, cattle, capybaras, raccoons and even large animals such as moose! When large prey is caught, pumas are known to cover their prey with bushes and return to eat the food over a period of time. 


What is the pumas’ habitat?

Pumas are found throughout Central and South America. In North America, hunting has reduced their range to isolated areas in Mexico, western U.S. wilderness areas, southern Florida and southwestern Canada. They live in a wide variety of habitats from forests, deserts, swamps and prairies. These cats will often live in areas that range in size from 30 square miles to 125 square miles.


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