Cougars, also called mountain lions, pumas and panthers, are solitary cats found throughout much of North and South America. Interaction between cougars generally only occurs during mating and between a female and her babies. Baby cougars are called cubs or kittens and remain with their mother for up to the first two years of their lives. A cougar's lifespan is approximately 10 years in the wild.
Mating and Gestation
Females begin breeding when they reach 2 or 3 years of age. Females give birth to a litter averaging between one and six cubs after only three months of gestation. According to The Cougar Fund, female cougars spend approximately three-quarters of their lives pregnant or raising cubs.
Adult cougars are brown, tawny gray or red in color. However, when the cub is born, the fur is brown with black spots on the body and bars on the tail. When the cub reaches 2 months of age, the spots begin to fade and the cub starts to grow into its adult coloring. By 6 months, it's difficult to see the spots, and all spots fade completely within 2 1/2 years after birth.
Cubs are born with their eyes closed. When the eyes open between 5 and 19 days after birth, the eyes appear blue due to lack of pigmentation. At approximately 5 months of age, the cub's eyes turn brown and remain brown throughout the cougar's life.
Females give birth to the litter in dens. Dens can be found in rock crevices, holes, overhangs and even low vegetation and are designed to protect cubs from predators, but rarely contain bedding. The cubs stay with their mother for the first 18 to 24 months of life. The mother teaches the cubs to hunt and survive before the cub leaves to find its own territory.
Like all mammals, a newborn cub's diet consists of its mother's milk for the first seven weeks. As the cub matures and reaches 7 to 9 weeks of age, the mother begins taking the cubs to kills to eat the meat. Kittens are fully weaned at approximately 4 to 6 months of age. Cougars usually eat deer and other small animals.
- Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images