The Mountain Lion’s Eyes and Vision (Nightvision, Colorblindness & More)

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Published on September 23, 2022
Last Updated on October 11, 2023

Mountain lions have different names in different regions of the Americas. They are sometimes called puma, cougar, or panther.

But, no matter where you are or what name they are called, mountain lions are always known for their large size, adaptability, and agility. And aside from those skills, they are also gifted with an excellent vision

Yes, you’ve read that right! Mountain lions, like their other Felidae family members, have great vision.

According to the Mountain Lion Foundation, mountain lions have keen eyesight. And to protect their eyes’ light-sensitive cells, their oval pupils allow them to open as far as possible at night and close almost entirely in strong light.

Now, do you want to know more about the mountain lion’s eyes and vision? Well, better continue scrolling as Floofmaia discusses everything you need to know about it! 

Do Mountain Lions Have Good Eyesight?

As stated earlier, yes, mountain lions have very good eyesight! To compare, their range of vision is around 285 degrees while humans only have 210 degrees. Aside from having a good daytime vision, mountain lions also have an exceptional vision in the dark. 

When hunting their prey, the mountain lion’s exceptional vision compensates for their poor sense of smell. The importance of their vision will be discussed further in the next paragraphs! 

Can Mountain Lions See Things Far Away?

Yes, mountain lions can see things two to three miles away! That means that they can see eight times as far as humans can. With this, mountain lions can easily spot their prey even though they are miles away from their current location. 

A mountain lion sitting on top of a rock, ready for leaping into action.

Do Mountain Lions See Things That Are Not Moving?

With their exceptional vision, mountain lions can see things and animals that are both moving and static. Even though their common prey like deer use their brown coat to camouflage in the woodlands, mountain lions can still spot them, even if they’re standing still. 

This feature also allows them to hunt and stalk their prey when their prey is resting or sleeping.  

Can Mountain Lions See In The Dark?

Yes, mountain lions have great nighttime vision! Their nighttime vision is 6 to 8 times better than humans. Plus, their night eyesight helps them be an effective nocturnal hunter. 

Now, what is the reason behind their exceptional vision in the dark?

How Do Mountain Lions See In Low Light Conditions

Mountain lions can see well at night because of the tapetum lucidum, a second cell layer behind their retinas that reflects available light through the eye. It’s also because of this cell layer that the mountain lion’s eyes appear to shine in the dark.

Are Mountain Lions Color-Blind?

Like other cats and mammals, mountain lions are color-blind – but not completely. Mountain lions can still detect a combination of two colors because they have dichromatic vision.

Dichromatic vision refers to having only two types of cones in the eyes. It’s the cones that are responsible for color vision in the eyes of any species. 

The two color combinations mountain lions see are blue and green. Plus, they can also detect shades of yellow and gray

What Colors Can Mountain Lions Not See?

Mountain lions can’t see red and other highly contrasting colors. Due to being dichromatic, they see red (and other large wavelength colors like orange) in a shade of gray. 

How Important Is Vision To A Mountain Lion?

As previously mentioned, mountain lions are known for their adaptability. One of the things that help them adapt to their environment is their good eyesight.

With their vision, they can easily hunt their prey even in environments and periods when hunting is normally more difficult (like in the winter season). Plus, their good nighttime vision is a big advantage for nocturnal hunting. 

Check this video below of a mountain lion attacking a deer at night: 

You can also see how fast they pounce on their prey! 

Aside from that, their great vision compensates for their poor sense of smell. Even though mountain lions can’t detect potential threats through smelling, they can easily see them. 

Can You Scare Off Mountain Lions Visually?

Even though mountain lion attacks are rare, it still does happen. So, knowing what you need to do in case you encounter one is very crucial. Here are the following ways you can scare off mountain lions visually: 

First, you can use preventive measures such as scarecrows. Putting scarecrows and sprinklers startles animals away. So, it can be effective in intimidating mountain lions away from your area.

Secondly, scare them by using strong colors. If you plan to go to an area known for mountain lion sightings, it is best to wear bright and highly contrasting clothing.

This is because mountain lions recognize blue or mid-tone colors as their prey. With that, wearing bright-colored clothes can make them ignore you. 

And lastly, you can also scare off mountain lions by appearing big! You can make yourself appear bigger by spreading your jacket and waving your arms. By that, you can make the mountain lion think you are “stronger” or more “dominant” compared to them. 

Visually scaring them off is a better option, since mountain lions are generally stronger than humans. So, physically fighting them might not be your best choice. But, if a mountain lion continues moving in your direction or starts attacking you, here are some of the things you can do:  

  • Protect your neck and head. Mountain lions usually attack those parts, so shielding them should be your top priority. 
  • Try to find any weapons or tools around you. It may seem useless, but there are many instances where using sticks, rocks, hiking and garden tools, and caps successfully scared off a mountain lion. 
  • Use your backpack as a shield. If you have a backpack, position it in front of you so it can act as your protection. 
Profile of a mountain lion's face.

Want To Know More About Mountain Lions? Check These Other Floofmania Articles About Them! 

  • The Mountain Lion Species (All About The Cougar)
  • Mountain Lions And Their Sense Of Smell
  • Mountain Lions: The Great Climbing Predator
  • Are Mountain Lions Good at Jumping? (Questions & Answers)
  • The Mountain Lion’s Hunting Behavior (Explained)

Author: Kaye

Hi, I’m Kaye! Since an early age, I’ve been fascinated with animals. While growing up, I was constantly watching animal programs and reading magazines. I started writing about animals in 2021 when I volunteered to be a publicity officer in a nonprofit organization that advocates for giving stray animals a better life.

Author: Mitzie C

Mitzie is a writer and animal welfare advocate. Her writing is inspired by her love for her rescue cats, Eddy and Dylan, and her rescue dogs, Cypher, Daegu and Holly. Follow her journey as she discovers her unique voice here in Floofmania and shares her insights on the importance of the animal kingdom.


  • Kaye

    Hi, I’m Kaye! Since an early age, I’ve been fascinated with animals. While growing up, I was constantly watching animal programs and reading magazines. I started writing about animals in 2021 when I volunteered to be a publicity officer in a nonprofit organization that advocates for giving stray animals a better life.

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