Mountain Lions Versus Porcupines

F99, an orphaned cougar kitten, caching an elk carcass she discovered. Photograph by Mark Elbroch / Panthera
F99, an orphaned cougar kitten, caching an elk carcass she discovered. Photograph by Mark Elbroch / Panthera

What did F99, a subadult female mountain lion followed by Panthera’s Teton Cougar Project, think when she encountered a North American porcupine in early November? A small, female mountain lion in the Northern Rocky Mountains might weigh 80 lbs, while a large porcupine might weigh 20. Certainly, the two species aren’t matched for a fair fight—mountain lions are stealthy predators that make their living by killing and consuming animals, and porcupines are waddling prey that make their living by chewing bulbs, fungi, foliage and inner bark. Yet, somehow, porcupines sometimes win.

And F99 was an especially small mountain lion, weighing just 40 lbs. She was stunted from malnutrition after being orphaned when her mother was killed on the last day of March, 2014 (see Why Do Adult Cougars Kill Each Other?). Since then, F99 had proven a capable hunter of diverse small prey (see Fumbling Cougar Kittens: Learning to Hunt), but as far as we knew, she’d never tackled a porcupine—to our knowledge, she’d never even seen a porcupine, as they were rare in her mother’s home range.

Of course we’ll never —> Read More Here

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