Puma

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Binomial name
Puma concolor
(Linnaeus, 1771)

The puma (Puma concolor since 1993, previously Felis concolor) is a type of predator-feline found in North, Central, and South America. Though large in size this cat cannot roar, but instead purrs and has even been said to make eerily humanlike screams when courting. It is more closely related to the common house cat than to the African lion. It is also known by the regional names of cougar, mountain lion, panther, catamount, and painted cat. The word puma comes from the Quechua language. In Brazil it is known an suçuarana, from the Tupi language, but also has other names. In fact in the English language the puma has over 40 different names.

In North America, particularly the United States, panther by itself refers to a puma, although the term black panther is correctly associated only with the melanistic variants of leopards or jaguars rather than pumas. In Europe and Asia, panther means leopard and can refer to either the spotted or black leopard. In South America, panther refers to the jaguar and can refer to either the spotted or black jaguar. The melanistic gene can be seen in a variety of cats, including the Lion, Tiger, Leopard, Jaguar, Caracal, Jaguarundi, Serval, Ocelot, Margay, Bobcat, Geoffrey's Cat; however, melanism has never been documented in Puma concolor, though urban legends of "black panthers" persist. Such anecdotal accounts are particularly prominent in the Appalachian Mountains of the eastern United States, a region where P. concolor is accepted as having been wholly extirpated by the late 1800's, and where breeding populations have not been documented as re-established by 2005.

Recent DNA analysis has established that the puma is supposedly quite closely related to the jaguarundi and North American cheetah (Miracinonyx, now extinct), but not to true cheetahs. The puma is not closely related to other large felines, such as leopards and lions.

There is a considerable variation in color and size of these animals across their large range of habitats.

Subspecies

Hybrids

Hybrids between subspecies of puma have occurred where new blood has been introduced into the Florida panther. Although a controversial move, the hybrids are more vigorous than pure Florida panthers and excessive inbreeding is averted.

In spite of not being closely related to the pantherine big cats, hybrids between pumas and leopards have been bred and are called pumapards. Hybrids between a puma and an ocelot have also been bred. Hybrids between pumas and jaguars have been reported, but none have been proven.

Population and distribution

The range of the puma

Pumas have one of the largest ranges of any wild cat, holding competition with only the Eurasian Lynx, Wild Cat and greatly spread Leopard. Before the modern human population explosion in the Americas, the puma ranged across most of the Americas. Even now, it has the widest range of any New World land animal, spanning 110 degrees of latitude, from the northern Yukon Territory (in Canada) to the southern Andes (on both the Chilean and Argentinian sides). One of the only locations where the puma is in great danger is within the United States, mainly Florida and other parts of the East Coast. This is mostly due to human infringement, clashing with cities and other urban "advancements" or because of the loss of territories that urbanization brings. When pumas are found and relocated to more "wild" parts of the state, they are put into competition with already existing cats.

Puma populations of the United States and Canada

Hunted almost to extinction in the United States, the puma has made a dramatic comeback, with an estimated 30,000 individuals in the western United States. In Canada, pumas are found west of the prairies, in Alberta, British Columbia and the southern Yukon. The densest concentration of pumas in North America is found on Vancouver Island in British Columbia

Pumas are gradually extending their range to the east, following creeks and riverbeds, and have reached Missouri and Michigan. Pumas have been seen along the northern shore of Lake Superior with an attack on a horse in Ely, Minnesota in 2004. It is anticipated that they will soon expand their range over the entire eastern and southern United States. There are continuing reports of the survival of a remnant population of the Eastern Cougar in New Brunswick, Ontario, and the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec.

Due to urbanization in the urban-wildland interface, pumas often come into contact with people, especially in areas with a large population of deer, their natural prey. They have also begun preying on pets, such as dogs and cats, and livestock, but have rarely turned to people as a source of food.

There are an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 pumas in California (est. circa 1990) and an estimated 4,500 to 5,000 in Colorado.

Puma, photographed in the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, Tucson, Arizona

Physical characteristics

Pumas are tawny-colored with black-tipped ears and tail. The puma can run as fast as 50 km/h (30 mph), jump 6 m (20 ft) from a standing position, vertically leap 2.5 m (8 ft), and often weigh more than 70 kg (150 lb). Their bite strength is more powerful than that of any domestic dog. Puma claws are retractable and they have four toes. Adult males may be more than eight feet long (nose to tail), and have a mass of about 70 kg (weigh approx 150 lb). In exceptional cases males may reach as much as 90 kg. Adult females can be 2 m (7 ft) long and have a mass of about 35 kg (weigh approx 75 lb). Puma kittens have brownish-blackish spots and rings on their tails. Their life span is about a decade in the wild and 25 years or more in captivity.

Pumas that live closest to the equator are the smallest, and increase in size in populations closer to the poles.

Color Morphs

The normal coloration of the puma is tawny or sandy, mimicking their principal prey, the deer. Kittens have irregular blotches of darker brown which can sometimes persist into adolescence but disappear by the time the cat is a year old. Abnormally pale and even white (leucistic but not albino) pumas exist. Abnormally dark brown pumas with paler bellies have been described, primarily from South and Central America and were described as couguar noire in Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon. There are no authenticated reports of truly melanistic pumas.

Behavior

Pumas can kill and drag prey about 7 times their own weight. They normally hunt large mammals, such as deer and elk, but will eat small animals, such as beavers, porcupines or even mice, if the need arises. They hunt alone and ambush their prey, often from behind. They usually kill with a bite at the base of the skull to break the neck of their target. The carcass of the kill is usually then buried or partially covered to protect it for several days, while the puma continues to roam and comes back for nourishment as needed. Pumas do not enjoy being scavengers, however, and will generally hunt for their own food and not eat from a carcass. Pumas will catch and kill their prey 98% of the time, so perhaps they can afford to be a bit choosey. Like other cats, they will also move to certain areas for feeding. Adult males tend to claim a 250 km² (100 mile²) stretch for their territory; adult females take (50 to 150 km² (20 to 60 mile²) on average; however their ranges can vary from as much as 1,000 km² (370 mile²) to as little as 25 km² (10 mile²).

A male may breed with several females. Female pumas usually have 3 or 4 kittens in a den in a rocky location. If a male puma invades the territory of another male, he may kill the kittens of resident females so that they will become receptive to mating.

Attacks on humans

Attacks on humans are rare, but do occur — especially as humans encroach on wildlands and impact the availability of the puma's traditional prey. There were around 100 puma attacks on humans in the USA and Canada during the period from 1890 to January 2004, with 16 fatalities; figures for California were 14 attacks and 6 fatalities. Attacks by puma on humans and pets are associated with urban areas situated in the wildland urban intermix such as the Boulder, Colorado area which have encouraged the traditional prey of the puma, the mule deer, to habituate to urban areas and the presence of people and pets. Pumas in such circumstances may come to lose their fear of both people and dogs and come to see them as prey.

On January 8, 2004 a puma killed and partly ate a mountain biker in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park in Orange County, California; what is assumed to be the same animal attacked another mountain biker in the park the following day, but was fought off by other bikers. A young male puma was shot nearby by rangers later in the day.

Pumas cannot be hunted in California except under very specific circumstances. This, as well as the extinction in California of the wolf and brown bear, has allowed the puma to greatly increase its numbers, as there are usually no longer any competing predators able to steal a puma's kill, though a few black bears may be strong enough to do so. California law requires that wild animals who have attacked a human must be killed if they can be located.

Puma safety tips

Jogging, running, and biking on wildland trails can be particularly hazardous since such runners are likely to be less attentive to the surroundings and the motion can trigger a "chase and kill" reflex in the animal. Talk to local authorities or park rangers to see if it is advisable before taking such a risk.

Further reading


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Pumas cannot be hunted in California except under very specific circumstances. Drake's Regiment of Militia, New Hampshire militia unit during the Revolutionary War. A young male puma was shot nearby by rangers later in the day. Drakes, a currency in the computer game The Elder Scrolls III: Morrowind. On January 8, 2004 a puma killed and partly ate a mountain biker in Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park in Orange County, California; what is assumed to be the same animal attacked another mountain biker in the park the following day, but was fought off by other bikers. Drake of the 99 Dragons, an Xbox game. Pumas in such circumstances may come to lose their fear of both people and dogs and come to see them as prey. Drake equation, a speculative formula for the number of civilizations in our galaxy with which we might be able to communicate.

Attacks by puma on humans and pets are associated with urban areas situated in the wildland urban intermix such as the Boulder, Colorado area which have encouraged the traditional prey of the puma, the mule deer, to habituate to urban areas and the presence of people and pets. Drake class cruiser. There were around 100 puma attacks on humans in the USA and Canada during the period from 1890 to January 2004, with 16 fatalities; figures for California were 14 attacks and 6 fatalities. Clare Drake Arena, a multi-purpose arena in Edmonton. Attacks on humans are rare, but do occur — especially as humans encroach on wildlands and impact the availability of the puma's traditional prey. Drake Hotel in Toronto. If a male puma invades the territory of another male, he may kill the kittens of resident females so that they will become receptive to mating. Drake Hotel in Chicago.

Female pumas usually have 3 or 4 kittens in a den in a rocky location. Drake's Island in Plymouth Sound. A male may breed with several females. Drake Passage or Drake Strait between Cape Horn and Antarctica. Adult males tend to claim a 250 km² (100 mile²) stretch for their territory; adult females take (50 to 150 km² (20 to 60 mile²) on average; however their ranges can vary from as much as 1,000 km² (370 mile²) to as little as 25 km² (10 mile²). Drake, a city in North Dakota. Like other cats, they will also move to certain areas for feeding. Drake Company, a manufacturer of radio equipment.

Pumas will catch and kill their prey 98% of the time, so perhaps they can afford to be a bit choosey. L. Pumas do not enjoy being scavengers, however, and will generally hunt for their own food and not eat from a carcass. R. The carcass of the kill is usually then buried or partially covered to protect it for several days, while the puma continues to roam and comes back for nourishment as needed. Drake's, a baking company. They usually kill with a bite at the base of the skull to break the neck of their target. Vera Drake, a British film directed by Mike Leigh.

They hunt alone and ambush their prey, often from behind. One Piece, an anime/manga also known as Drake, and the Search for Treasure. They normally hunt large mammals, such as deer and elk, but will eat small animals, such as beavers, porcupines or even mice, if the need arises. Drake and Josh, an American sitcom. Pumas can kill and drag prey about 7 times their own weight. Ludwig Von Drake. There are no authenticated reports of truly melanistic pumas. Vera O'Drake.

Abnormally dark brown pumas with paler bellies have been described, primarily from South and Central America and were described as couguar noire in Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon. Downy O'Drake. Abnormally pale and even white (leucistic but not albino) pumas exist. Drake Mallard. Kittens have irregular blotches of darker brown which can sometimes persist into adolescence but disappear by the time the cat is a year old. Doofus Drake. The normal coloration of the puma is tawny or sandy, mimicking their principal prey, the deer. Drake (Orange Islands).

Pumas that live closest to the equator are the smallest, and increase in size in populations closer to the poles. Drake. Their life span is about a decade in the wild and 25 years or more in captivity. Drayk, a creature in the "Geneforge" series. Puma kittens have brownish-blackish spots and rings on their tails. Bobby Drake (aka Iceman), a character in Marvel Comics. Adult females can be 2 m (7 ft) long and have a mass of about 35 kg (weigh approx 75 lb). Paul Drake, a character in Perry Mason.

In exceptional cases males may reach as much as 90 kg. John Drake, a character in Danger Man. Adult males may be more than eight feet long (nose to tail), and have a mass of about 70 kg (weigh approx 150 lb). Frank Drake, a character in Marvel Comics. Puma claws are retractable and they have four toes. Drake, a Commanding Officer in Advance Wars. Their bite strength is more powerful than that of any domestic dog. a European dragon.

The puma can run as fast as 50 km/h (30 mph), jump 6 m (20 ft) from a standing position, vertically leap 2.5 m (8 ft), and often weigh more than 70 kg (150 lb). a mayfly used as fishing bait. Pumas are tawny-colored with black-tipped ears and tail. a male duck. circa 1990) and an estimated 4,500 to 5,000 in Colorado. 1953), an American soap opera actor. There are an estimated 4,000 to 6,000 pumas in California (est. Drake Hogestyn (b.

They have also begun preying on pets, such as dogs and cats, and livestock, but have rarely turned to people as a source of food. Tom Drake (1918-1982), an American actor. Due to urbanization in the urban-wildland interface, pumas often come into contact with people, especially in areas with a large population of deer, their natural prey. 1949), an American politician. There are continuing reports of the survival of a remnant population of the Eastern Cougar in New Brunswick, Ontario, and the Gaspé Peninsula of Quebec. Thelma Drake (b. It is anticipated that they will soon expand their range over the entire eastern and southern United States. Ted Drake (1912-1995), a British cricket and football player.

Pumas have been seen along the northern shore of Lake Superior with an attack on a horse in Ely, Minnesota in 2004. Nick Drake (1948–1974), a British singer and songwriter. Pumas are gradually extending their range to the east, following creeks and riverbeds, and have reached Missouri and Michigan. Nathan Drake (1766-1836), a British essayist and physician. The densest concentration of pumas in North America is found on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. Markus Drake, a Finnish politician. In Canada, pumas are found west of the prairies, in Alberta, British Columbia and the southern Yukon. Joseph Rodman Drake (1795–1820), an American poet.

Hunted almost to extinction in the United States, the puma has made a dramatic comeback, with an estimated 30,000 individuals in the western United States. Jessica Drake, an American pornographic actress. When pumas are found and relocated to more "wild" parts of the state, they are put into competition with already existing cats. 1969), an American auto racing driver. This is mostly due to human infringement, clashing with cities and other urban "advancements" or because of the loss of territories that urbanization brings. Jay Drake (b. One of the only locations where the puma is in great danger is within the United States, mainly Florida and other parts of the East Coast. James Drake (1850–1915), an Australian politician.

Even now, it has the widest range of any New World land animal, spanning 110 degrees of latitude, from the northern Yukon Territory (in Canada) to the southern Andes (on both the Chilean and Argentinian sides). 1944), a British actress. Before the modern human population explosion in the Americas, the puma ranged across most of the Americas. Gabrielle Drake (b. Pumas have one of the largest ranges of any wild cat, holding competition with only the Eurasian Lynx, Wild Cat and greatly spread Leopard. 1930), an American astronomer and astrophysicist who developed the Drake equation. Hybrids between pumas and jaguars have been reported, but none have been proven. Frank Drake (b.

Hybrids between a puma and an ocelot have also been bred. Francis Drake (1540-1596), an English pirate and explorer. In spite of not being closely related to the pantherine big cats, hybrids between pumas and leopards have been bred and are called pumapards. Emmanuel Drake del Castillo (1855-1904), a Spanish botanist. Although a controversial move, the hybrids are more vigorous than pure Florida panthers and excessive inbreeding is averted. Edwin Drake (1819-1880), an American oil driller. Hybrids between subspecies of puma have occurred where new blood has been introduced into the Florida panther. 1945), an American sci-fi and fatasy writer.

. David Drake (b. There is a considerable variation in color and size of these animals across their large range of habitats. 1925), a British actor. The puma is not closely related to other large felines, such as leopards and lions. Charlie Drake (b. Recent DNA analysis has established that the puma is supposedly quite closely related to the jaguarundi and North American cheetah (Miracinonyx, now extinct), but not to true cheetahs. Charles George Drake (1920–1998), a Canadian neurosurgeon.

concolor is accepted as having been wholly extirpated by the late 1800's, and where breeding populations have not been documented as re-established by 2005. Charles Drake (1917-1994), an American actor. Such anecdotal accounts are particularly prominent in the Appalachian Mountains of the eastern United States, a region where P. Bruce Drake (1905-1983), an American basketball coach. The melanistic gene can be seen in a variety of cats, including the Lion, Tiger, Leopard, Jaguar, Caracal, Jaguarundi, Serval, Ocelot, Margay, Bobcat, Geoffrey's Cat; however, melanism has never been documented in Puma concolor, though urban legends of "black panthers" persist. Arnold Drake, an American writer of comic books. In South America, panther refers to the jaguar and can refer to either the spotted or black jaguar. Alfred George Drake (1894-1915), a British soldier.

In Europe and Asia, panther means leopard and can refer to either the spotted or black leopard. Alfred Drake (1914-1992), an American actor. In North America, particularly the United States, panther by itself refers to a puma, although the term black panther is correctly associated only with the melanistic variants of leopards or jaguars rather than pumas. Abraham Drake (1715-1781), an American military officer. In fact in the English language the puma has over 40 different names. 1972), a Canadian hockey player. In Brazil it is known an suçuarana, from the Tupi language, but also has other names. Drake Berehowsky (b.

The word puma comes from the Quechua language. 1986), an American actor and musician. It is also known by the regional names of cougar, mountain lion, panther, catamount, and painted cat. Drake Bell (b. It is more closely related to the common house cat than to the African lion. Though large in size this cat cannot roar, but instead purrs and has even been said to make eerily humanlike screams when courting.

The puma (Puma concolor since 1993, previously Felis concolor) is a type of predator-feline found in North, Central, and South America. Norton, November, 2003, hardcover, 320 pages, ISBN 0393058077. W. David Baron, Beast in the Garden: A Modern Parable of Man and Nature, W.

Do not climb a tree as pumas can climb just as well (if not much better) than humans. Be wary when leaving pets outside, particularly at dawn and dusk. Keep pets from roaming and never feed pets outside. Install motion-sensitive outdoor lighting.

Remove dense and low-lying vegetation that provide good hiding places for pumas. The best place to hit a puma is on the nose. Pumas have been repelled with rocks, sticks, garden tools, kicks, and bare hands; a well placed kick to the face has been known to work. Fight back if attacked.

Do not crouch down or bend over; this may create the appearance of an ordinary quadriped prey rather than a typically non-prey biped. Do everything possible to appear larger or intimidating, including raising arms wildly, opening up jacket, and throwing stones and branches. Pick up young children without bending or turning from the puma (if possible). Instead, stand and face the animal, making eye contact.

If confronted by a puma, do not run; that might stimulate its instinct to chase. Do not hike alone; go in groups with adults supervising children. Andes Puma (Puma concolor araucanus). Argentine Puma (Puma concolor pearsoni).

Chilean Puma (Puma concolor puma). Mato Grosso Cougar (Puma concolor acrocodia). Bolivian Cougar (Puma concolor osgoodi). Incan Cougar (Puma concolor incarum).

Amazon Cougar (Puma concolor discolor). Ecuador Cougar (Puma concolor soderstromi). Colombian Cougar (Puma concolor bangsi). Mayan Cougar (Puma concolor mayensis).

Texas Cougar (Puma concolor stanleyana. Yuma Puma (Puma concolor browni). Kaibab Cougar (Puma concolor kaibabensis). California Cougar (Puma concolor californica).

Vancouver Island Cougar (Puma concolor vancouverensis). Oregon Cougar (Puma concolor oregonensis). Colorado Cougar (Puma concolor hippolestes). Missoula Cougar (Puma concolor missoulensis).

Patagonian Puma (Puma concolor patagonica). Baja Californian Cougar (Puma concolor improcera). Brazilian Cougar (Puma concolor concolor). Costa Rican Cougar (Puma concolor costaricensis).

Mexican Cougar (Puma concolor azteca). Eastern Cougar (Puma concolor cougar). Wisconsin Cougar (Puma concolor shorgeri) (extinct, but numerous sightings have been reported). Florida Panther (Puma concolor coryi).

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