Nature Discovery with Renée! Hint: Puma Concolor

Welcome to our first Nature Discovery Blog, where each week Librarian Renée will feature a new animal that lives in our neighborhood! 

Can you guess who I am?

  1. I see you, though you probably won’t see me.  I like to stay hidden, high on a rock or up a tall tree.
  2. That’s where I stay, until the moment is just right.  Then I will leap from my perch, as if taking flight.
  3. 40 feet I can jump through the air.  Landing silently, without much care.
  4. I’m fast too! I can win almost any race.  50 mph is my top pace.
  5. Sharp are my claws that come out when I call.  But stay tucked away when not needed at all.
  6. My teeth are like daggers, my bite much more than a pinch.  My jaws apply pressures of 350 lbs. per square inch.
  7. Yes I am fearsome; I am a huntress searching for prey.  Preferring the early morning or dusk to the heat of the day.
  8. Though I share similar traits with your dear family pet, I am a wild predator! Please don’t forget!
  9. If our paths should cross, do not approach me!  Stand your ground, make yourself tall, and just let me be!
  10. Do I fill your mind with dread or fear?  There’s really nothing to worry about, unless you are a Mule Deer!

If you guessed a Mountain Lion you are correct! 

Mountain Lions are experts at social distancing!  Mountain Lions like to keep their distance and stay hidden.  You may never see a Mountain Lion in the wild, but they definitely see you!  With the help of cameras and tracking, scientists know they are abundant in this area (there are about 1500-3000 in Colorado).  

Here are some more interesting facts about Mountain Lions:

  •  The Adult Mountain Lion can measure 6 to 9 feet long and weigh 75 to 200 pounds.   Adult Mountain Lions usually only come together to mate, however female family members have been known to hang out together and share resources.  A female can have litters of 2 to 4 kittens, and will rear their young for up to two years.
  • Mountain Lions are carnivores and have an abundance of food choices in this area.  They will eat skunk (yes skunk!), porcupine, deer (a favorite!), elk, and yes, our family pets. When a Mountain Lion brings down larger prey, such a deer, it will cleverly build a “refrigerator” around it to keep it safe and fresh.  It is called a “Kill Cache” and is another way to track Mountain Lions in the area. If you should come across a pile of leaves, dirt, and twigs with the remains of an animal, DO NOT APPROACH!  This is a Kill cache and a Mountain Lion never strays too far.

If you should see a Mountain Lion, here are some “SMART” safety tips:

S – Stop, do not run!  These animals are fast and incredible jumpers!

M – Make yourself big!  Reach your arms up to the sky like a tree.

A – Announce yourself! In a loud voice, say something!  Anything! 

R – Retreat!  Slowly walk away without turning your back to the animal

T – Tell!  Tell a ranger and warn others you pass.

Mountain Lions are an important part of our ecosystem.  Yes they are big, fast, and intimidating, but here is one more important fact for you: In the past 100 years we have had three deaths from Mountain Lion attacks in Colorado.  Compare that to car accidents, deaths from mosquito bites, deaths from Lightning strikes, or even dog attacks, and you can feel a little safer on your next hike.

If you would like more information on this fascinating animal, check out this ebook: Path of the Puma: The Remarkable Resilience of the Mountain Lion by Jim Williams!

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