Mountain lions, which are also called pumas, panthers and cougars, are large cats that reach about 8 feet in length (including the tail) and weigh about 260 pounds. Males are larger than females. Their coat is short and coarse to help protect them from injury and insulate them from cold temperatures. Mountain lions vary in color from dark yellow to yellow-gray dorsally, while their ventral surface is usually white.
Mountain lions have 30 teeth that help them to capture and kill prey. Mountain lions have 12 relatively small teeth in the front of their mouths and 14 molars and premolars in the back of their mouths. However, the mountain lion’s most spectacular teeth are the four large teeth between the incisors and premolars, called the carnassial teeth.
Mountain lions have exceptionally strong legs that enable them to jump great distances, and zoologists have documented them jumping as high as 15 feet. Their claws are long, very sharp and retractable. Mountain lions use their claws to capture and dismember prey as well as for climbing and defense.
Mountain lions are shy animals that avoid humans whenever possible. Although they once ranged throughout North, Central and South America, their current range is limited to a few scattered areas.