Screams in the night…

You are awakened from a deep sleep by an unearthly scream, a sound that has been described as “bone-chilling”, “astounding” and “bloodcurdling”. What on earth could possibly make such a racket?

Well, it could be a female cougar. Unlike bears and wolves, and indeed most other mammals, cougars may breed at any time of the year, though usually timed so the kittens are born during a period of abundant food. The females mark their 7-8 day period of estrus with horrifying shrieks that the males apparently find irresistible. When the male joins in the caterwaul, the noise is truly unbelievable.

Once a male cougar has been attracted by the seductive cries of the female, he will remain by her side for the next few days, waiting until the female has decided she is ready to mate. When the time comes, the couple will copulate up to 70 times a day! This seemingly Herculean feat is put in perspective somewhat when we discover that each copulation lasts less than a minute. After her period of heat is over, the female cougar will drive the male off with fierce growls and swipes of her sharp claws. Alone once more, the pregnant female will undergo a gestation period of approximately 3 months before giving birth to 2 or 3 kittens.

Check back next month for another interesting wildlife fact.