What Does a Cougar Eat?

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Cougars, also known as pumas, mountain lions and catamounts, are carnivores and eat exclusively meat. Their exact diet depends on the part of the world and the terrain in which they live.

In North America, cougars mainly feed on large animals such as white-tailed deer, mule deer and elk. In some areas, they also eat bighorn sheep. However, when necessary, cougars hunt and eat almost any type of smaller animal, including coyotes, bobcats, beavers, porcupines, raccoons, opossums and skunks. In Florida, they also eat wild pigs and armadillos. They have even been known to eat animals as small as mice and insects. In areas where ranches and farms have encroached upon their territory, cougars feed on domestic cattle and sheep. In South America, where there are less deer, cougars feed on capybaras, which are large rodents, as well as rabbits, hares, porcupines, mice, small reptiles and birds.

Cougars usually hunt at night. They wait in ambush for their prey and leap upon them from concealment at close range. Attacking from behind, they attempt a deadly bite to the back of the neck. When they kill a large animal, they drag it to an isolated area, cover it with debris and feed on it for days. During this time, cougars remain near the carcass to sleep and feed.