Mountain Lions And Swimming (Do They Like Water?)

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Mountain lions (Puma concolor) are known for their numerous names, stealthy skills, and ferocious nature. These proficient hunters dominate as apex predators whatever terrain they live in.

Mountain lions are highly adaptable and can be found in steep rocky mountains, open deserts, and coastal forests. Their prey surely has nowhere to hide from these big cats.

You may say that some of its prey can escape the mountain lion by going into bodies of water. They’ll be safe, right? Think again! Do you know that these big cats have another skill few people know about? Mountain lions, unlike your pet cats, are NOT afraid of water. But are they good swimmers?

Join Floofmania in discovering the mountain lion’s swimming ability as well as other cool information that makes this North American cat a truly unique and interesting animal. Let’s get started.

Mountain lion sitting alert in front of moss clad tree trunk.

Are Mountain Lions Good Swimmers?

Yes, mountain lions are good swimmers. This is a little-known fact because the animals are very rarely seen cooling off or taking a dip in bodies of water. But when they do, their swimming abilities are absolutely impressive. Mountain lions are natural swimmers. They have no problems whatsoever crossing large and deep bodies of water.

Check out this rare video of a swimming mountain lion. You’ll observe that the animal swims better than most land mammals.

How Do Mountain Lions Swim?

The swimming style of mountain lions is similar to other four-legged animals like dogs and other large felines. They use their legs to paddle through while keeping their head above water. Well, the term “dog style” of swimming is indeed a misnomer as other animals like the mountain lion can also do the same.

How Fast Do Mountain Lions Swim?

These fast and agile felines, as excellent swimmers as they are, can swim at speeds of 1 to 3 mph. For comparison, that speed is similar to the walking speed of an adult human. That’s still very fast considering mountain lions do not like getting their fur wet. 

Do Mountain Lions Dislike Water?

Ironically, mountain lions hate water. They are not afraid of taking a dip while waiting for or following their prey but they don’t like it when their fur gets wet. 

Cats, in general, cover themselves with their own scent. The mountain lion is no different. When the water washes away their scent, it spells long periods of grooming and licking for the poor puma. 

Can Mountain Lions Dive and Swim Underwater?

This is a tough question. There have been no reports that say that mountain lions can hold their breath for long periods of time. Despite being excellent swimmers, we can assume that mountain lions, in general, cannot dive or swim underwater. Or if they can, perhaps they just don’t want to. They need to keep their heads and noses above water in order for them to breathe. 

Mountain lions do not have protective abilities that can prevent water from going into their nostrils and lungs as some aquatic mammals do.

However, mountain lions are seldom seen taking a quick dive underwater when catching fish. These opportunistic predators will hunt and eat whatever food is available—no matter how uncomfortable getting wet is for them. 

How Long Can Mountain Lions Hold Their Breath? 

There is not much research done in terms of the capacity of mountain lions to hold their breath underwater. However, it is safe to say that these large felines depend on swimming on the surface a lot more than diving underwater for a long time. 

Do Mountain Lions Stalk Their Prey From Under The Water?

No, mountain lions do not stalk their prey underwater

They do, however, stalk their prey from the water, but their stalking technique mostly involves keeping their head above the water. The animals swim and paddle toward their prey in a stealthy manner. 

As they get within striking distance, the mountain lions just pounce on their prey similar to what they do on land. It may be a bit more difficult than what they are used to but these top predators can manage as long as they can breathe freely.

Why Do Mountain Lions Swim?

Mountain lions utilize their swimming skills for strategic reasons. These animals swim across bodies of water to reach areas where their prey is at.  

These animals are so agile that they can control their movements in whatever kind of terrain and environment they are in. They have strong and slender bodies which are great features to have for easy maneuverability—may it be on land or in large bodies of water.

How Mountain Lions Use Swimming For Hunting

The mountain lions’ swimming skills come in handy whenever they are in search of their next meal. A large body of water is just another obstacle to getting their tummy full. The mountain lion’s prey like deer and other small mammals don’t stand a chance when choosing bodies of water as an escape route.

Mountain lions are not superb swimmers per se but they can outswim their usual prey that tries to escape by going into the water. These big cats usually prey on elk, deer, rabbits, raccoons, and even fish.

Just take a look at this video in which a deer tries to dive into a residential pool to escape from the fierce feline. What the mountain lion does is amazing. It just dives into the pool without any problem whatsoever.

Do Mountain Lions Use Water To Wash Themselves?

Mountain lions do not bathe. Like most cats, they clean themselves by licking and grooming. Their strong and sandpaper-like tongues are used to clean their bodies from the scent of their prey. 

Fun Fact: Aside from removing dirt, grooming provides the mountain lion with a few advantages. 

  • First, removing the scent of their prey protects the feline from other predators. 
  • Second, grooming minimizes the mountain lion’s scent which in turn helps it remain unnoticed by its prey.
  • Lastly, the licking of their fur speeds up evaporation, which is a way to bring down the animal’s body temperature.

Will Mountain Lions Go In The Water To Cool Down?

Mountain lions do not go in the water to cool down. In fact, they dislike the water! In addition, these large cats do not need water to cool down.

They have a couple of methods to cool down. Mountain lions bring their core temperature down by licking their fur and by panting.

Would Mountain Lions Rather Swim Over A River or Walk?

As much as they hate the water, mountain lions would choose to cross a river rather than go the long walking route to reach their destination. And when mountain lions get wet, there’s a purpose. These animals are efficient hunters and can detect their prey from afar. 

So, the next time you see a mountain lion crossing a lake or river, the feline must be in a hurry to attend a buffet party!

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.

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