The Cougar

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Photo by Jamie Dutcher

The cougar, Alberta’s biggest cat, can be found in wild areas along the full length of western North America, and Mexico, Central America and South America. Adult males can weigh up to 90 kg while females average 45 kg. Adults are well camouflaged with tawny to grey-brown fur and black tips on their tails and backs of their ears. Their heads are small and round and their eyes are brown with large pupils.

Fun Facts:

  • Despite their wide distribution, cougars are seldom spotted by humans.
  • Cougars are apex predators and are excellent hunters.
    • Cougars have a killing bite with sharp teeth to tear off chunks of meat and a rough tongue to clean traces of meat off their prey’s bones.
    • Their hind legs are longer than their front ones to give better spring to pounce of their prey, their claws are razor sharp for bringing down their prey and climbing trees and their skeletons bend easily for jumping, stretching and twisting.
    • These cats have an excellent sense of smell and their large pupils help them see their prey in dim light.
    • Cougars are hunt-and-wait predators, meaning they watch their prey silently in trees or rocks and pounce when their prey is feeding.
    • Cougars hunt moose, elk, caribou and deer.
  • Cougars are solitary animals unless they are with their young.
  • When a female is ready to give birth, she finds a den in rock piles, caves or under a deep brush of fallen trees.
    • Cougars will occasionally use human built structures such as doghouses, sheds or hunting cabins for their dens.
  • Cubs develop their hunting skills by hunting at their mother’s side and stay with their mother until they can hunt for themselves which is typically between 13 and 24 months.

If you find an injured or orphaned wild bird or animal in distress, please contact the Calgary Wildlife Rehabilitation Society hotline at 403-239-2488, for tips, instructions and advice, or look at the website at www.calgarywildlife.org for more information.

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