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Mountain Lions Play More Than Solitaire

Cougar Columbus Zoo

Mountain Lions Are More Social Than Previously Thought

The Mountain lion has long been considered a solitary creature, but the results of a new study suggests the big cats share companionship patterns similar to more social species like chimpanzees.

Panthera’s Puma Program set up motion-triggered video cameras at over 200 common kill locations. The study followed thirteen Wyoming pumas over three years to observe their social behavior.  The research team predicted the mountain lions would not tolerate another cat at their kill, but in every single recorded case, after the occasional growl, hiss and protest, the cats sat down and shared a meal.

The study showed an interesting social dynamic.  Female and older mountain lions were more tolerant overall while the males protected females in return for receiving food and courtship. The cats also seem to remember who was hospitable in the past. Using a network analysis to model the interactions in a larger population, the data suggests a mountain lion would be more than seven time as likely to allow a another cat eat if that individual had shared its own kill in the past.

Teton Cougar Project image

Photo courtesy of Teton Cougar Project

No Eat and Run Meet Up

The Mountain lions didn’t just eat and run. On average, the big cats would spend eight days per kill together in the winder and meet up with different cats every ten to twelve days.  Technology allows us to peek inside the secret lives of Mountain lions via the remote video cameras to learn more about their social patterns. We thought the big cats were solitary animals but it seems they are far more social than previously

Check out this short video courtesy of Scientific American.

Adaptive social strategies in a solitary carnivore
L. Mark Elbroch, Michael Levy, Mark Lubell, Howard Quigley Anthony Caragiulo
Science Advances 11 Oct 2017: Vol. 3, no. 10, e1701218 DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.1701218

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  • databbiesotrouttowne

    awesome findings and thanx for sharing the video; the cat in the tree reminded me of tuna sleeping on the back of the chair !!! 🙂 ??

  • Sharon A. Allen

    That was so great. Loved watching. Thanks for sharing!

  • Dash Kitten in NZ

    Those hidden cameras are a real eye opener helping us to understand how these amazing cat live together!

  • Cat Fleming

    That’s so awesome. I wonder how many of those meeting up are actually siblings or otherwise related.