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The cougar typically weighs between 90 and 180 lbs, with a few large males topping 200 lbs. Cougars are tan to brown. Adult cougars have a body length about 5-6 feet long from nose to base of tail. The tail is long and thick with a black tip. The head is relatively small compared to the body. Cougars are primarily nocturnal although they can be active during the day. They are solitary and secretive animals that prefer to hunt from cover. Cougars have a relatively short life span - 8 to 12 years. Over most of its range the cougar's primary wild prey is deer. Cougars are opportunistic predators and will take prey of varying sizes up to and including young moose. Occasionally, livestock and domestic dogs are also taken as prey. Prey is most frequently killed by a bite to the neck, which severs the spinal column. Cougars are most often found in rural or relatively remote areas with ample cover and adequate prey populations. They are extremely secretive animals. In the western states, they may exist in close proximity to people.
Cougar (Puma concolor)
5 - 6 feet long
2 1/2 - 3 1/2 feet long
40% of body length from nose to tail tip)
75 - 180 pounds
Plain yellowish to red-brown
Black coloring on end of tail and tips of ears, ears rounded
Young have spots
Bobcat (Lynx rufus)
3 1/2 feet long
Approximately 6 inches
10 - 40 pounds
Similar to cougar
Black coloring on end of tail and tips of ears, ears pointed with small tufts of fur
Young have spots
How to identify cougar, coyote and bobcat tracks
First, determine if the track is from a canine (dog) or feline (cat). Canine tracks have definite claw marks, one lobe on the front of the heel pad, and two lobes on the rear of the heel pad. In contrast, feline tracks rarely show claw marks, the front of the heel pad has two lobes, and the rear of the heel pad has three lobes. Canine tracks are typically rectangular in shape (longer than they are wide), while feline tracks have more of a square or circular shape (length and width are even or track is wider than it is tall).
Then look at the size of the track adult cougar tracks average 3 1/2 inches tall by 4 inches wide. In contrast, coyote (and most other dog) tracks are longer than they are wide. Bobcat tracks are much smaller than cougar tracks, typically about 1 1/2 inches long by 1 3/8 inches wide.