Observations of Wild Cougar (Puma concolor) Kittens with Live Prey: Implications for Learning and Survival

L. Mark Elbroch, Howard Quigley


The Cougar (Puma concolor) is a cryptic species in which social learning or opportunity learning has yet to be documented in the wild. “Opportunity teaching” is teaching in which an animal creates opportunities for conspecifics to observe or participate in operant learning. We present video data on an observation of Cougar kittens exhibiting social learning and inefficiency and inexperience in attempting to kill a live Mule Deer (Odocoileus hemionus) fawn. Our observations provide evidence for the importance of maternal care and they help explain why Cougar kittens less than a year of age have low survival rates.


Cougar; Puma concolor; Mule Deer; Odocoileus hemionus; hunting; opportunity teaching; predation; social learning; Wyoming

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.22621/cfn.v126i4.1380

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