What’s on a Mountain Lion’s Menu?

Mountain lions (Puma concolor), opportunistic hunters that are also obligate carnivores, have evolved to consume meat and only meat. While these wild cats have a strong preference for deer, that’s not the only animal that they’ll pursue for dinner. So, what else do mountain lions like to eat and why?

Just like you or I, lions prefer to conserve energy by eating a bigger meal. A larger meal ultimately equals less hunting overall. However, when deer populations decline, mountain lions are forced to modify their diet. As such, they have been known to consume elk (Cervus canadensis), bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis), and even the occasional moose (Alces alces). Their menu will vary by region, of course, depending on prey availability. When larger prey species are absent, mountain lions will seek out smaller species like rabbits, peccaries, marmots, beaver, and porcupines. This list goes on!

When natural prey species are not readily available, mountain lions may potentially target domestic animals like hobby livestock or pets. That is why it is critical to properly protect your animals when living alongside predators. Especially when conditions are tough like during wildfires or droughts. Wild animals aren’t too different from people and will do whatever they need to do in order to survive! Fortunately, predator-proof enclosures and other methods of deterrence are available so that we can coexist safely with wildlife!

Denise Peterson

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