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10 Fun Facts about the Patagonian Puma

Diego Salas

The Patagonian puma provokes a lot of interest among tourists who visit the Torres del Paine.  They’re not easy to spot, even though they’re the largest cat species in Chile, due to its exceptional camouflage skills and, true to their solitary character, they prefer to stay away from curious humans.

However, while we can’t always see them at first sight, we know that they are around hiding.  The guides at Tierra Patagonia are very familiar with pumas and, with their knowledge and experience, are known for being able to help visitors get a privileged and lucky view of a puma in action.  This, of course, is always done while keeping a safe distance from the big cats, as we don’t want to intrude.

Along with the help of Tierra’s guides, it is important to learn a bit more about this beautiful animal before going to search for it.  For this reason, we have made a list of 10 fun facts about the puma that you likely did not already know:

  1. It ranks highest on the Patagonian food chain, with guanacos being its main prey. For this reason, the puma’s presence is essential in this zone in order to maintain a balanced ecosystem.  It provides food for scavengers such as the condor and controls the population of the animals it hunts.
  2. The puma is the fourth largest cat in the world, after the lion, tiger, and jaguar.
  3. Unlike other felines, like the lion or tiger, the puma does not roar but rather purrs much like a regular house cat. This condition is why the puma is excluded from the Panthera genus.
  4. The puma is one of the most extensive species on the continent, inhabiting mostly mountainous zones, from Canada all the way down to Magallanes. This type of geography, such as is found in the Torres del Paine National Park, is perfect for pumas as it provides them shelter between rocks and boulders to hide behind while hunting.
  5. Although it is the largest in Chile, on a global level it is considered a small-sized cat. Male pumas can weigh anywhere from 68 up to 100 kilos, while females tend to weigh over 45 kilos.  Length-wise, they can measure between 1.5 to 2.7 meters long, from the head to the end of the tail.
  6. Normally, these animals live a solitary life. Until recently, pumas were believed to interact only to mate, however, new research has shown increased tolerance between adult pumas, having observed them sharing their kills and carrying out more of a familial lifestyle than what was originally thought.
  7. Puma fur is a reddish-grey tone with lighter areas on the lower body, and with a black point on the tail. This appearance comes in handy for stealthily stalking its prey.  The puma’s camouflage allows it to blend in with the rocks and shrubs on the Patagonian pampa.
  8. Unlike other big cats, the puma has a slim body, similar to a house cat, but on a much larger scale. In fact, in colloquial terms, the Patagonians refer to pumas as gatos (cats in Spanish).
  9. The life expectancy of the Patagonian puma is approximately 10 years. Today, its conservation status is classified as “vulnerable”.
  10. Pumas can begin to reproduce from 2 to 3 years old, and usually, they have 2 or 3 cubs at a time. Currently, the population within the Torres del Paine National Park is estimated at between 50 to 100 pumas.

Now that you know the facts, when you’re visiting the Torres Del Paine Park, be sure to stay very alert and keep your eyes open.  If you’re lucky, you might just spot a sly puma, one of the most spectacular animals in the Southern hemisphere.  Remember, if you plan to visit Tierra Patagonia and you are interested in puma observation and other wildlife excursions, you should let your Guest Experience Executive know when you make your booking and we’ll prepare a special stay based on your interests to ensure your experience is unforgettable.