Shy and elusive, cougars live solitary lives within a system of mutual avoidance. Males and females interact for breeding when females are about 2 1/2 years old. Giving birth throughout the year, females can have litters of up to four kittens, but only one or two survive. Born spotted, the kittens stay with their mothers for about 18 months, after which time they will leave in search of their own home range.
In a healthy ecosystem, cougars are a top predator, helping to balance wildlife populations. Deer are their primary food sources, and the presence of deer indicates likely presence of cougars. However, as opportunistic feeders, cougars can survive on a variety of prey including rodents, birds, porcupines, fish and raccoons, as well as livestock and domestic animals.The Mountain Lion Foundation is a nonprofit conservation and education organization dedicated to protecting the mountain lion and their wild habitat to ensure that our wildlife heritage endures for future generations. (photo credit)