19. Mountain Lion
Mountain lions can be found throughout Arizona and are most common in rocky or mountainous terrain. Because mountain lions are shy and elusive, people do not often see them. Mountain lions are solitary animals with the exception of females with kittens or breeding pairs.
Signs of mountain lion presence include large tracks (3-5 inches wide) without claw marks; large segmented, cylindrical droppings; food caches where a kill has been partially eaten and then covered with leaves, brush or dirt; and scrapes in soft dirt or leaf litter.
The mountain lion (Puma Concolor) is also known as the cougar, puma, panther, and catamount, and is the largest wildcat in North America. Mountain lions have powerful limbs and can leap as high as 15 feet and as far as 40 feet.
There are an estimated 30,000 mountain lions in the western United States. One mountain lion subspecies, the Florida panther, is critically endangered with a population of less than 100 individuals.
Mountain lions are active hunters and may travel long distances in search of food. They hunt alone and attack from behind, breaking the neck of their prey by biting it at the base of the skull. After killing their prey, they will bury it and leave it, coming back to feed on it when hungry.
Females have two to four kittens, which the mother raises alone. The kittens nurse for two months, and then start to travel with their mother at which time she teaches them to hunt. They will remain with their mother from 1.5 - 2 years. Males that enter another male's territory have been known to kill the kittens so that females will be more willing to mate.
Did you know?
Young mountain lions have spots, but adults do not.
Artist: Doug Quarles
Completed: February 2014