Mountain Lion

(AKA Cougar or Puma)

Puma concolor (Formerly Felis concolor)

Mountain Lion or Cougar Track Photos

Mountain lion track in snow. Photo copyright
                    Jessika Hodgson 2009.

A beautiful hind print in snow. This photo was taken in Colorado. (Donated photo. Thank you!)
Notice the teardrop-shaped toe pads. The three lobes on the back of the heel (metatarsal) pad, and the two lobes on the front of it, are also clear in this photo. The heel pad on mountain lion tracks appears large in relation to the size of the toes.

Mountain lion track in snow. Right front foot
                      with protractor for size comparison. Photo
                      copyright Jessika Hodgson 2009.

A nice, clear right front paw print. The details that identify this as a mountain lion track are clear. The palm (metacarpal) pad shows three lobes on the hind edge and two lobes on the front edge. The toes are teardrop shaped. They lack claw marks. The print is wider than it is long. The shape of the "negative space" between the heel pad and the toes is a C-shape. Note that some dog breeds do leave three-lobed heel pad tracks! This only further adds to the confusion between the tracks of these two species. (Donated photo)

Cougar, puma, or mountain lion track in snow.
                    Photo copyright Jessika Hodgson 2009.

Beautiful right front cougar footprint in snow. This print shows all the feline track characteristics.
Photo taken in Colorado. Donated photo. Thank you!

Set of mountain lion or cougar tracks. Photo
                    copyright Jessika Hodgson 2009.

This pair of cougar tracks shows the hind print on top of the front one. The hind track is narrower than the front one. The heel pad of the cougar's hind foot is narrower and the outer edges are not as large as those of the front paw. In this photo, the front track has been almost obliterated by the hind print. (Donated photo)

Cougar track with dollar for size comparison.
                    Photo copyright Jessika Hodgson 2009.

Clear hind track of a cougar. The dollar bill gives scale to the photo. It's a good idea to include some scale in the photo when you photograph tracks. Include a ruler or common object of known size. This will help you judge the size of the print later when you look up the track in a field guide. The cougar is also called puma, mountain lion, panther, catamount, and painter. All common names refer to the same animal, the species Puma concolor. Feline tracks are very distinctive and, although they are frequently confused with dog tracks, if you look closely, you will be able to tell them apart.  (Donated photo)

Pair of mountain lion paw prints. Photo
                    copyright Jessika Hodgson 2009.

Nice pair of mountain lion tracks. On the left is the left paw print. You can tell left from right by looking for the leading toe. One of the two front toes will usually land ahead of the other. Biologists number the toes this way: The dewclaw, or toe located on the animal's wrist, is Toe One. The innermost toe is Toe Two. Toe Three is the one you see here as the leading toe (in both tracks). Toe Four is the one to the outside of it. Toe Five is the outermost toe. (On a human, this would be the "pinky toe.")   (Donated photo)

Mountain lion footprint in snow. Photo
                      copyright Jessika Hodgson 2009.

If you look at this nice right front cougar track, you will see clearly the leading toe. (It is Toe Three). Notice how it sticks out ahead of the other toes? Because this toe sticks out, you can tell that this is the right foot. If the toe sticking out had been on the right side (out of the two leading toes), it would have been a left foot. The track is asymmetrical because the leading toes are not aligned next to each other, as they are in dog tracks. This is a key characteristic of cougar, and other feline tracks. It can also be one of the most difficult characteristics for beginners to distinguish in tracks. Thus, dog tracks are very frequently misidentified as mountain lion tracks. Sometimes, these misidentified tracks are published in the media, leading to more confusion. It takes experience looking at many tracks to distinguish the finer features. This is why trackers love to get out there in the field and get "dirt time!" Dirt Time is what we call our practice time. (Donated photo)


Find mountain lion and cougar tracks posters, greeting cards, postage stamps and more in my new store.

Visit my online store at:   Happy tracking!!

What else can you find in the nature store? Beartracker's animal tracks coloring book, T-shirts, sweatshirts, journals, book bags, toddler and infant apparel, mouse pads, posters, postcards, coffee mugs, travel mugs, clocks, Frisbees, bumper stickers, hats, stickers, and many more items. All with tracks or paw  prints, or nature scenes. Custom products are available. If you don't see the track you want on the product you want, email me and I can probably create it. Proceeds from all sales go to pay the monthly fees for this web site. You can help support this site as well as get great tracking products! Thank you!


Find other tracking products:*


Also visit these fine stores for more products of interest:

NDN Pride shop - For Indian Pride items for all tribes. Custom items available on request.

ASL Signs of Love - For anyone who uses or is learning ASL, American Sign Language. Custom name items and more are available here.

Get Every Child Outdoors (Get E.C.O.) - My shop dedicated to nature and getting kids interested in nature and the outdoors.

Sales from all stores give commissions to Beartracker's Animal Tracks Den, which helps keep this site online as a free service. We are celebrating ten years online this year!


If you wish to help keep this site online, donations are accepted through PayPal.
Beartracker's Animal Tracks Den is provided as a free service, but your
donations are sincerely appreciated to pay the monthly hosting fees.
If you do not wish to donate, we do have a store where you can purchase
custom tracking items.
Thank you and happy tracking!





Got a cougar story? E-mail me and tell me about it.

You are visitor number:
All counters reset in October 2000

Back to Mammals page

Back to the Animal Tracks Den

Copyright 1997, 2018. Text, photos, and drawings by Kim A. Cabrera


Copyright 1999, 2018. Kim A. Cabrera - Desert Moon Design.

Page updated: Monday, June 11, 2018.