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The puma, also known as the cougar, panther, or mountain lion (Felis concolor) , is a large American cat, formerly to be met anywhere from the St. Lawrence River and southern British Columbia to Patagonia, but now practically exterminated east of the Rocky Mountains. It is remarkable among the larger cats for its uniformity of coloration, whence it is popularly known as ‘lion’ throughout all the countries south of the United States. The fur is thick and close, and in adults is plain tawny above, except for a dark streak along the middle of the back, and a dark tip to the tail, while the under surface is of a paler tint. The presence in the young, however, of a ringed tail and of spots on the body shows that the puma’s ancestors possessed the characteristically feline type of coloration. There is much variation in size: the largest authenticated measurement is eight feet two inches from the snout to the tip of the tail, the tail being three feet eight inches; but the usual length of the body, exclusive of the tail, appears to be under four feet. The puma is able to live in low-lying plains and on mountain slopes, among dense forests and on the treeless pampas. Its natural prey is such animals as deer in North and in Central America, while of the pampas it feeds largely on huanacos; but everywhere it preys as hunger suggests or occasion requires on any smaller and more agile creature it is able to pick up. Like the leopard, it is especially destructive to sheep, a single puma when it gains access to a fold sometimes slaughtering 100 in a night, seemingly in a blind revel of killing. It rarely attacks man unprovoked, and has the reputation, especially in the Plains regions, of being absolutely cowardly. When hunted with dogs (the usual method), it tries first to flee, and when overtaken climbs a tree, where it remains, snarling at the pack of dogs until the hunter comes up and dispatches it. Nevertheless, when cornered it fights to the death, showing that its real disposition is that of timidity and caution rather than of poltroonery. The two sexes live apart, but pair in winter and summer. Two or three young are born at once.


Mammals: O-Q, Cats


John H. Finley ed. Nelson's Perpetual Loose-Leaf Encyclopaedia (vol. 10) (New York, NY: Thomas Nelson and Sons, 1917) 101A


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