And within the "wilds" of this wrapped region, it's pretty likely most of the typical mountain lion territories are well-taken.
And not by other young bravos.
No - the prime properties are "owned" and prowled by the big boys - the older, seasoned, scarred and experienced males. The silver backs.
And while they can be some of the largest lions, statistically, the BCOMs (Big Cats on Mtns) are the least likely to bother or be seen by people.
Because, if a male lion can't find suitable territory, can't learn to hunt deer well, and can't learn to avoid people and their domestic animals and pets - it doesn't become old and wise. It becomes lion kill, road kill, or a depredation permit. Not 6, 8 or 12 years old, and built like a former CA Governator.
Here are some cam trap series of one such survivor - an uber hombre of the Santa Cruz Mountains that lives in a deer-riddled range, and overlaps with a previously-posted mom lion and cub.
Right away he gave the cams some good mug shots.
Check out that neck and those shoulders. Thick.
That's the "Awwww - what the heck is that thing?" look.
As you can see, these digital cameras don't handle deeply dappled light - aka high dynamic range scenes - well at all. But well enough to note, that even though fuzzy (ha!), this lion is a boy.
The cat equivalent of "the finger"?
Here are 3 shots of him at night. Note his wide jaw and round, moon face. And wide ears with a nick or two. Those details, and others, such as tail shape and shoulder scars, help with IDs.
In this series he came up to the road from the slope, saw the IR glow of the cam, and stalked it.
And here's a series when he sat down right in front of the camera to scope and sniff the night for over a minute. The camera caught 24 photos. I call them "portraits of a serial killer." :)
But it is his job - deer mover and natural selector. Else, deer hang out and hammer their fave foods, such as the masses of leopard lilies no one ever sees bloom in our local Edgewood Preserve. Hmmm… deer mowing down leopard lilies when the lion's away - sounds like a Farside cartoon.
And they evolved preying upon some pretty big browsers & grazers in the Americas, too - deer, bighorn sheep, mtn goats, llamas, pronghorn and elk - which can weigh 1,000 lbs, no prob.
That's some risky hunting. But a necessity when you weigh 150 lbs, and need to average 6 lbs of meat a day. Bunnies and voles don't fill the belly.
Love his aquiline nose. Hail Caesar!
Of course, the cool cats get all the ladies, too. And, if regional resources (deer) are plentiful, they'll usually allow several gals to overlap their home range. Here, big guy is out for a stroll in the rain this past spring with the mom lion from Let There Be Lions, after her cub dispersed.
Such a gentleman. ;)
And finally, here's what he looks like doing a cheek rub on the camera:
Just like a house cat. But then, they are related - both are from the "small cat" lineage, Felinae, which is a different evolutionary branch from the "big cats," Pantherinae, that includes the jaguar, leopards, tigers and African & Asian lions. And the closely related but extinct American lion, Panthera leo atrox, that hunted the California grasslands a mere 12,000 years ago.
One cute difference: small cats can purr, but not truly roar - they more scream/yowl. And while big cats can roar, they can't really purr - they wuffle their affection.
Btw - as small cats, if you've ever "lived with" a domestic cat, then you pretty much understand mountain lions.
- they roam their territories like their attitudes don't stink, often using fave paths and routes, and especially at night when they have sensory supremacy
- they sleep 16+ hours a day, also in fave spots
- they happily stalk, ambush and chase running things, often just for skill-sharpening
- they're snobs about hygiene and their food, and the places they poop
- they scent mark with cheek rubs and rolls, and like minty smells, such as catnip
- they are occasionally social
- UC Santa Cruz Puma Project - 46m's Journey from Big Basin to Mt View
- SFGate - Cougar's 9-Hour Detour in Downtown Mountain View
- Feldhamer, Thompson, Chapman - Wild Mammals of North America - Mountain Lion chapter by Becky M. Pierce and Vernon C. Bleich
- Mark Elbroch & Kurt Rinehart - Behavior of North American Mammals
- E. W. Jameson, Jr., and Hans J. Peeters, UCPress - Mammals of California
- Tracking the Furman Cougar
- Mountain Lion Foundation - Cougars at Home
- Mountain Lion Foundation - Biology and Behavior
- California Department of Fish & Wildlife - Mountain Lion FAQs
- Wikipedia - Cougar
- Wikipedia - Felinae
- Wikipedia - Pantherinae
- Wikipedia - American Lion
- Nature of a Man (this blog) - Let There Be Lions
- Nature of a Man (this blog) - Stray Cat Strut
- Nature of a Man (this blog) - Smelly Cat
- Nature of a Man (this blog) - Always Put Collars on Your Kitties
- Nature of a Man (this blog) - The Cautious Cougar
- Nature of a Man (this blog) - The Wowcat
- Nature of a Man (this blog) - The Clockwork Cougar
- Nature of a Man (this blog) - Puma Tales & Puma Tales Post Script