Confused by the contrast between its name and appearance, wildlife enthusiasts often wonder whether a mountain lion meows or not. Before we answer this question, let’s understand what a mountain lion is and what are some of its unique characteristics.
What is a mountain lion?
You might be surprised to know that contrary to what its name suggests, this animal is not a lion but a large, brown-colored cat. It is the largest cat after jaguars and is mostly found in America and surrounding countries. An amusing fact about mountain lions is that their size varies along with the geographic region they belong to. This means that those who are inhabitants of areas near the equator are smaller in size than the category which resides closer to the poles.
If you are wondering what does this animal looks like, be informed that its back is covered in orange-brown fur, but it’s chest and stomach are bare, and greyish-white in color. A closer look at the picture below will help you locate another physical feature of this animal, i.e., black marks on its ears, nose, mouth, and tail.
This species is also known as a panther, cougar, or puma, all of which are alternative names for this animal. It is usually spotted during the nighttime or twilight hours, however, sightings during the day have also been reported by wildlife zoologists. It falls under the category of carnivores and deer is one of its favorite prey, although it also consumes insects and small animals.
Does a mountain lion meow or roar?
Since cougars do not classify as lions, the fact that they do not roar should not come as a surprise. However, they make various other noises. For example, in uninhabited areas such as large grounds or deserted woods, the sound these animals make is similar to that of a whistle or chirping of birds.
Moving on to the question that has left many people curious, we’d like to explain when and why do mountain lions meow. The meowing sound is produced by baby cougars. When they grow up, meowing is replaced by purring and growling. Purring is a sign that these animals are in a good mood while growling indicates that they are unhappy or displeased about something.
Click the following video to see for yourself, the different sounds made by a mountain lion:
Reproduction mechanism and resulting offspring
Even though cougars do not roar, their females generate a loud noise resembling a scream. This is their way of attracting their male counterparts.
Each litter born has either two or four cubs. At the time of their birth, these cubs have spots on their bodies which eventually fade away by the time these babies are nine months old. You might be further amused to know that even the eye color of a mountain lion’s offspring transforms by the time it is 16 months old. This species is born with blue eyes which eventually change color to yellow.
By the time a baby cougar is 18 months old, it is prepared to face the world independently, thus no longer needing its mother’s help in preying.
An interesting fact about mountain lions
As we have already discussed, a mountain lion is known by multiple names. However, many do not know that it is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as an animal having the most names; 200 to be exact. In addition to the ones already mentioned above, mountain lions or cougars are also known as the “Powerful Beast”, “Lord of the Forest” and “Ghost Cat”. The last title mentioned perfectly depicts the attributes of a mountain lion because it is a solitary creature that is rarely sighted.
Historically, mountain lions had such a large population that the species was found all over North and South America. However, this particular animal was detested by most people who feared it would harm their livestock. As a result, mountain lions were hunted down and cruelly killed to the extent that they almost became extinct from the United States.
Today, continuous conservation efforts by the government and wildlife organizations have stabilized the number of these animals in the western part of the country. However, we are still far from matching the original figures. Other reasons for extinction besides the massive killing of these animals include habitat destruction (deforestation) and their conflicts with other wild animals who may be equally violent.
How to keep yourself safe without harming this extinct species?
If you live near a forest or woods, ensure that you do not stroll out alone, especially at night time. Also, no matter how adventurous you are, avoid hiking all by yourself in areas where mountain lions are known to exist.
If however, there comes a situation where you are face-to-face with a cougar, try to remain calm and follow these steps:
- Try to make yourself appear larger to give the wild animal an impression that you’d be difficult to compete with. As a group, you may do this by standing close together. As an individual, you may open your jacket and spread its flaps, raise your arms to appear taller, or pick up any accompanying child or pet, thus ensuring their safety as well as yours.
- Make noise to gain attention. However, do ensure that the sound you produce does not seem like that of prey which may attract the cougar. Try making noise by banging a possession on the tree, or by shouting in a loud but calm manner so that the animal does not sense predatory behavior.
- One of the best techniques to deal with a mountain lion or any other wild animal is to maintain eye contact. This will give them the impression that you, and not they are the predator. Therefore, it is very important to remain composed and confident. Try not to start running away as this will encourage these cougars to come after you.
- Even though we highly discourage attacking or harming wildlife in any manner, but if the need is, do take measures to protect yourself. If you think that an attack by mountain lions is inevitable and there is a threat to your life, fight back and try to protect areas like your throat and neck. If unarmed, use any sharp object such as a rock, branch of a tree, or a garden tool as your weapon.
We hope you found this article informative. Besides answering whether cougars are lions or cats and whether they meow or roar, we also tried covering other interesting facts about the species. Therefore, we are positive that those who have a special interest in wildlife would find this read enjoyable.