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Mountain Lion Size Comparison: How Big Are They Really?

Mountain lions are considered large cats. They are the fourth largest feline in the world. Their size varies a lot depending on age, gender, and geographical location. They can reach over 200 pounds in weight and 9 feet in length.

Mountain lions are powerful predators. They use their size to take down huge animals, like elk and moose, but can also efficiently hunt smaller prey.

Their ferocity coupled with their size allows them to be some of the top predators in their environments. They are comparable in size to wolves and even jaguars.

But how big are mountain lions? And are there differences between subspecies?

In this article, we’ll answer these questions and more about the mountain lion’s size.

Mountain Lion Size

Mountain lions aren’t large animals, they are considered large among felines. Their size is similar to humans, both in terms of length and weight. Their sizes vary a lot from region to region, with mountain lions closer to the equator being smaller.

Mountain Lion Size Dimensions

TraitMountain Lion
Height24-35 inches
Length4 ft 11 in – 9 ft
Weight64-220 lbs

Mountain lions are large felines. They are comparable in size to humans, being similar to us in weight and length. Their size varies wildly from region to region though.

Mountain lion size varies according to Bergmann’s rule. The rule states that animals in colder environments are larger than their counterparts in warmer regions. 

This applies to mountain lions, with populations being smaller in size close to the equator.[1]

Mountain Lion Size Dimensions

Mountain Lion Size Compared to Other Felines

Mountain lions are the fourth largest feline species in the world. 

Only three other feline species are larger on average than mountain lions:

  • Tigers (Panthera tigris)
  • Lions (Panthera leo)
  • Jaguar (Panthera onca)

In the Americas, jaguars are the only felines that are larger on average than mountain lions. This varies from region to region, as mountain lions are larger than jaguars in some habitats.

How Big Are Baby Mountain Lions?

Baby mountain lions are called cubs. When born, they are about four times the size of domestic cat kittens.

They weigh about one pound when born, and are usually about 12 inches long. They also have thick, fuzzy fur that makes them look bigger than they are.[2]

How Big Are Baby Mountain Lions

How Much Do Mountain Lions Weigh?

Mountain lions can weigh over 200 pounds. Their weight varies a lot, depending on gender, age, and the region they live in. They can be as light as 64 pounds or reach upwards of 220 pounds. More weight gives them an advantage when hunting or defending themselves.

Mountain lions can reach impressive weights, sometimes passing 200 pounds. They can weigh anywhere from 64 to 220 pounds, although they don’t generally get that big. 

Their weight depends on three factors: 

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Environment

Male mountain lions weigh about 150 pounds on average, while females are lighter, at about 120 pounds on average. 

Males and females can be considerably lighter or heavier than these averages.

Largest Mountain Lions Ever

Mountain lions can grow large if they live in the right conditions. The largest confirmed mountain lion weighed in at 232 pounds. Such a large individual is a rare encounter. 

There are reports of large male mountain lions weighing as much as 260 or 276 pounds. These reports are most likely exaggerated, without enough corroborators.[3][4]

Mountain Lion Growth

Mountain lions are some of the top predators in their environments, so they need to grow up fast and their place in the food chain. They weigh about one pound when they’re born, but quickly develop, becoming independent hunters after 12 months.

Mountain lions grow up fast, they can hunt by themselves at around 12 months old. Cubs weigh a meager one pound when they’re born, measuring about 12 inches in length. 

They grow the most in their first year after which their growth slowly starts to plateau.

They still grow after they’re sexually mature and considered adults. They keep growing until three to five years old when they reach their final size.[5]

Mountain Lion Growth

Mountain Lion Size of Different Subspecies

There are two subspecies of the mountain lion: the northern and the southern. The northern subspecies are slightly larger than the southern. These size differences aren’t always noticeable, as some South American mountain lions grow large.

Mountain lions are officially split into two subspecies:

  • North American mountain lions (Puma concolor couguar)
  • South American mountain lions (Puma concolor concolor)

The North American cougar (or mountain lion) is larger than its South American counterpart on average. 

While large northern lion males regularly reach 170-200 pounds, South American lions rarely reach get over 175 pounds.

Mountain Lions vs. Humans Size Comparison

Mountain lions are similar in size to humans. When considering their tail they are longer than we are tall. They are lighter on average than humans but they are close to our weight. While mountain lions rarely attack humans we can generally fight them off.

Mountain lions are powerful animals. They are about the size of a human, a bit lighter than us on average. 

While they don’t generally view us as prey, they do occasionally attack humans. They are more than capable of killing humans, especially if they manage to ambush one.

Mountain Lions vs. Humans Size Comparison

They generally run when they meet us unless they feel cornered, or a mother is defending her cubs. Don’t turn your back or start running when confronted with a mountain lion. Make yourself appear bigger, and make noise to intimidate the mountain lion.[6]

TraitAverage US manAverage mountain lion
Weight198 pounds150 pounds
Height/Length 5 feet 9 inches7 feet 10 inches (Tail accounts for over 2 feet of length) 

Humans can fight off mountain lion attacks. We are heavier than them so we’ve got the advantage.[7] Children and smaller people are at a higher risk.

Mountain Lions vs. Smaller Animals Size Comparison

Mountain lions have a wide range across the Americas. They share territory with many animals. A lot of these are smaller than mountain lions and they are hard to mistake for one another.

Here’s a quick comparison of mountain lions and other smaller species that live close to them:

TraitMountain LionCat (large Maine Coon)BobcatRed FoxCoyoteCanada Lynx
Height29 inches16 inches18 inches17 inches24 inches21 inches
Length7 ft 10 in3 ft 4 in2 ft 9 in3 ft 4 in3 ft 10 in3 ft
Weight150 pounds25 pounds21 pounds18 pounds37 pounds25 pounds

It’s clear that mountain lions are amongst the larger animals in their environment.

Red fox in nature

Mountain Lions vs. Dogs Size Comparison

Mountain lions are large felines, and dogs can be overwhelmed by their ferocity. Dogs can fight mountain lions and survive, but big lions pose a real threat to man’s best friend. Large dogs can be used as a deterrent and to guard livestock.

Some dogs are closer in size to mountain lions:

TraitMountain LionGolden RetrieverTibetan Mastiff
Height29 inches24 inches29 inches
Length7 ft 10 in3 ft 5 in3 ft 8 in
Weight150 pounds75 pounds150 pounds

Mountain lions are felines and have a characteristically longer body shape compared to canids like dogs. They are also large enough to pose a threat to most dogs, especially in a one-on-one fight.

There are recorded cases of smaller dogs fighting off mountain lions. 

Keep in mind that in some of these cases the felines were described as “thin and desperate”.[7][8]

brown tibetan mastiff sitting

Mountain Lions vs. Wolves Size Comparison

Wolves and mountain lions share a lot of range, especially in western North America. On average mountain lions are larger. A fight between a mountain lion and a wolf can go either way, but if the wolf is alone, it’s generally going to lose.

Mountain lions and wolves have a lot of common territory across their ranges. Wolf packs exert some pressure on mountain lion populations as the two directly compete for food. 

Wolf packs are also known to target and kill mountain lions.[9]

Here’s how a mountain stacks up against a wolf.

TraitMountain LionWolf
Height29 inches31 inches
Length7 ft 10 in4 ft 3 in
Weight150 pounds80 pounds

Wolves can get much bigger than this average, sometimes weighing up to 160-170 pounds. In most one-on-one fights a mountain lion would win against a lone wolf.[10]

wolves chasing their prey

Mountain Lions vs. Jaguars Size Comparison

Mountain lions and jaguars are the two largest felines in the Americas. Their territories overlap somewhat and they can meet in the wild. Jaguars are larger than mountain lions on average, and they have a more muscular build. In the northern parts of their shared territories, mountain lions have the size advantage.

Mountain lions and jaguars are the largest felines in the Americas. Their territories overlap in parts of north, central, and South America. 

They are similar in size although the jaguar has the potential to get much heavier:

TraitMountain LionJaguar
Height24–35 inches26.8-29.5 inches
Length7 feet 10 inches6 feet 10 inches
Weight110–220 lbs123-212 lbs

Large jaguar males have been recorded weighing in at over 300 pounds. They have a much stockier and muscular build when compared to mountain lions.[11]

Jaguars are generally larger than mountain lions, especially south of the Amazon. In the northern parts of their range, mainly in Mexico and Central America mountain lions are usually larger than jaguars.[12]

Related article: Jaguars vs. Mountain Lions


Mountain lions are some of the largest predators in their environments. They use their size to their advantage and hunt prey as large as elk and moose. There are animals that are comparable to them in size, but they remain close to the top of the food chain. The only feline in the Americas that is generally larger than them is the jaguar.

About Codrin Frunzete

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