Mountain Lions and Running (Speed, Range, & More!)

Mountain lions (puma concolor) are known for their great hunting skills. They can catch their prey using stealthy tactics. But another skill they are quite good at is running, which is one of the most important traits they would need for a successful ambush.

In this article, we will talk about their ability to run. How fast can they run and what makes them good at it? Join Floofmania as we also discuss how long they can run and why they run in the first place.

Are you ready? Let’s start!

How Far Do Mountain Lions Move Every Day?

On average, mountain lions move 2.3 miles every day but can travel up to 49 miles depending on the day’s activity. The distance may include their search for food, patrolling their territory, looking for a mate, or even a new home.

Take note that a single mountain lion’s territory is about 50 to 150 square miles and they like roaming around it to keep guard and create scent marks.

These felines also move their food to a hiding place and cache it by covering it with leaves and dirt to prevent other carnivores from stealing their meal.

Why Do Mountain Lions Run?

Mountain lions primarily run when they are trying to catch their prey or escape from another animal.

They can also be quite playful as kittens and try to chase each other. Occasionally, they would also run short distances at average speeds while traveling. Mountain lions also run to create momentum when climbing trees.

These big cats are carnivores, meaning their primary diet consists of meat. Their usual prey is deer but they also hunt other animals like elks, guanacos, rabbits, and mice. Whatever meat is available, the mountain lion will surely try to take a bite. 

The mountain lion would stalk its prey from behind and wait for a good opportunity to pounce and bite the animal. Of course, the animals they are hunting try to defend themselves by either fighting back or in most cases, running away. 

That’s where the mountain lion’s running skills come in handy. If need be, the mountain lion will quickly chase its prey as it tries to have a successful hunt.

Check out this video of a mountain lion trying to catch a guanaco:

Mountain lions are also prey for other predators like bears and wolves, which is why fleeing is another good use of their running skills. If they cannot fight back, fleeing from the enemy is the safest way to escape a possible bad ending. 

Escaping can also be an option if a rude mountain lion trespasses another’s territory and gets on the owner’s nerves.

How Fast Can A Mountain Lion Run?

The maximum speed a mountain lion can run is 50 miles per hour. As their primary source of food is meat from other animals, they have to be able to outrun their prey.

A mule deer, one of their common prey animals, run up to 35 miles per hour. Thus, having the ability and skill to run at this speed is essential for a mountain lion to not starve.

Never Try To Outrun A Mountain Lion

As we have learned about the speed at which these mountain lions can run, it can be safe to say that humans cannot outrun these animals.

Running away would trigger their instincts in hunting and would likely try to attack. Hence, if you ever encounter one of these felids, do not try to outrun them. 

It’s also good to remember that they have sharp teeth and claws which can cause you serious harm if you provoke them to chase you. 

Here’s what you should do when a mountain lion approaches you:

  • Slowly back off while keeping eye contact.
  • Try to make yourself look bigger by raising and waving your arms.
  • Throw an object without hitting the mountain lions to intimidate the animal.
  • Speak loudly and firmly.

Mountain lions are easily scared by those who seem to have the upper hand. Mountain lions are also commonly not into attacking humans. If they do try to, they probably have a good reason. 

It’s either you provoked them or they are protecting their kittens. So, if the list above doesn’t work and it does attack you, fight back.

Why Mountain Lions Are So Good At Running

The mountain lion’s overall physical build makes them good at running. They have slender bodies and suitable muscles in their hind legs. These enable them to leap great heights and run fast. Their long tails also help in counterbalancing their body while running.

Did you know that mountain lions are also good runners during winter? While other animals like deer and elk struggle in the snow, mountain lions do not. 

Their large paws are a great advantage in the snow. It helps them efficiently navigate through the snow making it easy to hunt unsuspecting and disadvantaged creatures.

Living in the wild is not easy. One needs a certain set of skills and physicality to survive and thrive in harsh conditions. As mentioned above, being a good runner is essential to a mountain lion’s success. It’s one skill they need to survive.

How Long Can Mountain Lions Keep Running?

Mountain lions can only run for a short time at maximum speed. Long runs are not their forte. Their aerobic capacity and stamina are not suitable for long chases. These cats can only run in brief bursts.

Mountain lions prefer to walk when searching for food or just traveling. Of course, running all the time would not be so secretive for stalking prey and is too exhausting. However, when the need arises, they can run excellently, just not continuously.

How Do Mountain Lions Run?

Mountain lions use their good builds to run fast for short periods. They start bolting when it is time to attack another animal or flee from an enemy. The direction, speed, and duration they run depend on the need and circumstances.

Do Mountain Lions Keep Running Fast, Or Do They Run In Sprints?

Mountain lions run in sprints. As previously mentioned, these cats do not have the endurance to keep running fast for long periods. They usually sprint in short bursts and avoid long periods of running. These cats won’t win a marathon, that’s for sure.

If their prey outruns them for too long, the mountain lion would stop chasing and abandon the animal as seen in the previous video of it chasing a guanaco. It would just search for other animals to stalk and attack for food. Giving up is definitely an option for them.

Do Mountain Lions Prefer Running In Straight Lines?

You would usually see mountain lions running in straight lines but they can also do so in curved paths when needed. It depends on the destination they are headed to. If their prey runs a straight line, they would do so. If their prey runs in another path, they would also follow that way. 

The geography of their location is also a factor. These animals can survive in different kinds of habitats such as forests, farmlands, deserts, and mountains. A flat and obstacle-free ground is not always present. If something is blocking the way, a detour would be needed.

Author: Jomvie Reyes

Jomvie has been a writer for over 10 years and animals and wildlife are among his favorite topics. Learning and writing about the vast and diverse wildlife from all over the world, is more of a hobby than a job for him. Jomvie loves to watch and observe these remarkable species up close and personal.

Leave a Comment