11 Curiosities about Pumas

The puma is a fascinating animal full of surprises. Here we'll reveal a few of them so keep reading and get ready to admire these formidable animals..
11 Curiosities about Pumas

Last update: 15 April, 2022

Big cats are always the object of human admiration, at least from afar. No one would want to meet one of them unawares. However, there’s no harm in getting to know some curiosities about pumas! You’ll enjoy the ones we’ve brought to you today!

In this article, you’ll be able to explore their nature through the different facts we bring you, and we’re sure you’ll be surprised by what you read. Don’t miss it, because to know pumas is to learn to respect them.

Curiosities about pumas

The puma, whose scientific name is Puma concolor, is also known as the cougar, the mountain lion or the American lion. It belongs to the family Felidae and has several subspecies. You’ll be interested to know that there is no difference at all between a puma and a cougar – different countries call them by different names.

A puma.

1. The most widespread terrestrial mammal

The puma, or cougar, is native to the Americas. Its area of distribution is enormous, ranging from the Yukon in Canada to the southern Andes Mountains and Patagonia. However, its population is dispersed, as it needs large areas for each individual.

2. It adapts to everything

The secret to the survival of this species is how adaptable it is. From Canada to Patagonia there are different biomes that the puma adapts to without any problem. In addition, it has a generalist diet, so it’s able to feed on a wide variety of prey, from ungulates to camelids.

3. Hunting by ambush

Another curiosity about pumas is the way they hunt. Thanks to their stealth and calmness in waiting, they’re able to approach prey undetected, thus avoiding continuous fights in which they can get hurt. They go straight for the throat.

4. It’s territorial and solitary

As mentioned above, pumas are spread over many square kilometers, but their population density is low. In fact, the extent of each individual’s territory will depend on the abundance of prey, so they’ll stay further apart as prey becomes scarcer.

In some areas they also compete with other predators, such as the jaguar, which is larger than pumas.

5. They can’t roar

Despite its size, the puma is more closely related to small cats (such as the domestic cat) than to its cousins in the Panthera genus: the lion, tiger, leopard and jaguar. Pumas, on the other hand, meow and purr.

The roar is generated by the vibration of the hyoid, a floating, semi-rigid bone located in the feline’s throat. Pumas don’t have this bone.

6. It’s a superpredator

The word superpredator refers to animals that prey on others to survive, but aren’t hunted by any other species. The puma is one of them. However, this doesn’t mean that it doesn’t suffer threats, as, in its habitat, it has to compete against other hunters.

7. They hide their food

This is another of our curiosities about pumas: they hide away when they’re eating, even if this means having to drag a huge animal they’ve caught several meters or even climb a tree. There’s a reason for this. These felines hunt prey every few days and binge, because they don’t know when they’ll be able to eat again. Therefore, before consuming the meat, they hide it so that no competitor can steal it.

8. They’re agile and strong

Climbing trees with prey on your back requires powerful muscles. In fact, pumas are capable of reaching 64 kilometers per hour at a run and jumping 6 meters high, sometimes even higher.

9. Protagonist of cultures and mythologies

Humans who lived near these animals were perfectly aware of their enormous strength and grace. That’s why the indigenous peoples of the Americas recognized it in their culture. The Inca city of Cuzco was designed in the shape of a puma and Lake Titicaca received its name from the Aymara word titi, “jaguar”.

References to this great animal are also found in North America. For the Apache and Walapai, the puma was a harbinger of death. The Cheyenne also referenced the puma in their ancient writings.

10. It’s unusual for them to attack humans

While there have been some recorded attacks on our species, these felines generally run away from us. They know we’re dangerous and only attack when they’re in serious danger, as we aren’t in their diet.

11. It’s an endangered species

A puma.

At present,as regards their current risk status, the puma is in a category of minor concern. The greatest threat they face is habitat loss, as deforestation caused by industrial and residential development fragments their territory and forces them to compete to a greater extent.

On the other hand, they have been considered a dangerous feline since the arrival of European colonization in the Americas, so their indiscriminate hunting has been allowed and tolerated for many years.

Fortunately, awareness of the importance of native fauna is becoming more and more widespread, so there’s no shortage of people concerned about pumas. Little by little, we’ll be able to show the wonderful nature of these felines.

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  • Nielsen, C., Thompson, D., Kelly, M. & Lopez-Gonzalez, C.A. 2015. Puma concolor (errata version published in 2016). The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2015: e.T18868A97216466. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2015-4.RLTS.T18868A50663436.en. Accessed on 06 April 2022.
  • Scognamillo, D., Maxit, I. E., Sunquist, M., & Polisar, J. (2003). Coexistence of jaguar (Panthera onca) and puma (Puma concolor) in a mosaic landscape in the Venezuelan llanos. Journal of Zoology259(3), 269-279.