Cougar Tracks

Click here to hear a lion roar. (26K WAV file)

Natural History of Cougars


Mountain lions are also called cougars, panthers, catamounts, or pumas. They are the largest cats in North America.

These solitary animals avoid people if they can. Their primary prey is deer, but they do eat porcupines, raccoons, birds, small mammals, foxes, mice, and grass.

The lion is a magnificent animal which was hunted to near extinction and is now making a comeback.

A single male lion may require up to 175 square miles of territory for its home range. They prefer wild areas frequented by deer. One lion will consume about one deer per week. A lion will cover the remains of its prey and return to the kill to feed until the meat begins to turn. An adult can weigh up to 200 pounds.

Young mountain lions have spots and a ringed tail, and thus are sometimes mistaken for bobcats. (The bobcat has a short tail, while the lion has a long tail.) A litter of one to six young are born between late winter and mid-summer. The cubs stay with their mother for one or two years.

lion track

Lion tracks show four toes on the front foot and four toes on the hind foot. The retractable claws do not show in the prints. Lion tracks can be over four inches long.

They are good climbers and can leap more than 20 feet up into a tree from a standstill. They can jump to the ground from as high as 60 feet up a tree. A single male lion may travel 25 miles a night when hunting. Lions may be active by day in areas far from humans. They are most active at dawn and dusk, the times when deer are out feeding.

Here is a lion track I found near Albee Creek Campground in Humboldt Redwoods State Park in April, 1998. It was a good print in mud and I made a plaster cast of it.

animal track - mountain lion

Personal Notes on Cougars

I have found cougar tracks many times. Many of the tracks belong to a young lion who has moved into one of my favorite tracking areas. I have heard many cougar stories from people who have lived in this area for many years. There is a town near here called Panther Gap, supposedly because of all the cougars that lived there when this area was first settled. (Donít bother looking on a map. Even on local maps, there is nothing to indicate Panther Gap. Itís just too small.)

This lion can leap pretty high. I found tracks once where it leaped up onto a big redwood log from the ground. A pretty good leap from a standstill. Despite all the negative stories about cougars, I still enjoy finding their tracks. I saw my first lion in July, 1998. It ran across Highway 101 right in front of me. This was about four miles south of the town of Weott, California. It was a young lion.


Find cougar and mountain lion posters, greeting cards, t-shirts, hats, and more in my new store.

Now available: "Animals Don't Cover Their Tracks - An Introduction to Animal Tracking" on CD! (Version 3.0) New drawings, more species, more photos, more extensive sections on tracking humans, more detailed directions for plaster casting, mystery tracks section, tracking stories section, and more. The CD features over 100 species, including special bonus sections with the tracks of some African and Australian animals. A large section on tracking lost people for search and rescue is included, with over four pages of photos showing the details of tracks and signs people leave. Easy to use format. This web site is limited by bandwidth, but the CD-ROM is not. The CD is available in my online store at:  Works with Mac or PC. Happy tracking!!

What else can you find in the nature store? Beartracker's animal tracks coloring book, T-shirts, sweatshirts, journals, book bags, toddler and infant apparel, mouse pads, posters, postcards, coffee mugs, travel mugs, clocks, Frisbees, bumper stickers, hats, stickers, and many more items. All with tracks or paw  prints, or nature scenes. Custom products are available. If you don't see the track you want on the product you want, email me and I can probably create it. Proceeds from all sales go to pay the monthly fees for this web site. You can help support this site as well as get great tracking products! Thank you!


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Also visit these fine stores for more products of interest:

NDN Pride shop - For Indian Pride items for all tribes. Custom items available on request.

ASL Signs of Love - For anyone who uses or is learning ASL, American Sign Language. Custom name items and more are available here.

Sales from all stores give commissions to Beartracker's Animal Tracks Den, which helps keep this site online as a free service. We are celebrating ten years online this year!




prints prints

Got a cougar story? E-mail me and tell me about it.

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Copyright © 1997-2007. Text and drawings by Kim A. Cabrera