3 Facts About Mountain Lions In Winter

mountain lions in winter

Have you seen a mountain lion during winter? Summer?

Mountain lions in winter are very active as they walk around and hunt prey.  Here are 3 cool facts about these mountain lions during the winter, including their winter survival strategy.

I have spent a lot of time in the mountains, but have only seen a mountain lion in winter, never during the summer.  I always wondered why that would be.   I guessed maybe it had something to do with the lack of tree cover for them to hide or because their prey is at lower elevations.  Well, mountain lions are active during winter and they actually have several adaptations that help them catch their prey during this harsh time of year.

mountain lions in winter3 Facts About Mountain Lions In Winter

Mountain lions or cougars do not hibernate or migrate in winter.  Based on the three winter survival strategies we’ve talked about this leaves adaptation for them.  This means that they stay in the same general area year round and they adapt to get through winter.

One special trait they have that gives them an advantage during winter is their paws.  They have big paws that help them to walk in the snow.  Their paws are wide and act like little snow shoes to help prevent them from sinking down into the snow.  This gives them a big advantage over their prey (deer or elk) that sink down into the snow when walking.

mountain lions in winter

Here is a mountain lion track. Notice you can’t see any claws. Photo via Flickr.

They don’t have a strong sense of smell, which is why during the summer they wait to ambush prey.  However, during winter they adapt to a different hunting strategy.  After a fresh snow they will follow the tracks of their prey until eventually they catch them.  Their paws make them faster running in the snow than their prey.  I once came across some cat tracks in fresh snow that wandered this way and that, but kept crossing the area I was walking.  I was alone and got a bit spooked out.  I t was neat, but freaky so I turned around and headed back to my car after a short walk.

Do you know what to do if you see a mountain lion out in the wild?  Should you make eye contact?  Run away?  Walk away?  Make yourself big or lay down?  Read this old post to make sure you know how to respond in case you see a mountain lion.

If you like mountain lions and want to learn more, check out these 8 facts about mountain lions.

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