Scent-marking After a Rain - Mountain Lion Foundation (2023)

It rained on the Preserve earlier this week! Just a light rain in the early morning, not lasting long but it may have been long enough to trigger a territorial behavior in mountain lions called scent-marking. Mountain lions mark their territory in a few different ways, including marking a pile of dirt with feces or urine, known as a scratch pile, as well as scratch marking on trees, known as claw raking.

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Scent-marking After a Rain - Mountain Lion Foundation (1)If our Preserve lion is a male considering claiming some territory here, it may be that he was out doing some marking just after that rain. While lions constantly patrol and mark their territory to send a clear signal that the area is occupied, a perfectly sensible time to go out and ‘re-apply’ would be just after a rainfall, when scents would be diluted and washed away.

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Male mountain lions can leave scat in the middle of a road or pathway or if they’re actively scent-marking, they’ll use their back legs to kick together some dirt, twigs and leaves into a scratch pile and then either defecate or urinate on the pile, leaving these calling cards along the borders of their territory. Scent marking becomes particularly important when a male lion’s range overlaps with another male lion’s area or when a female lion in heat is nearby. Will this lion be so motivated to scent-mark if he doesn’t feel a threat from neighboring lions or smell a willing female? We can’t say. It depends on what this lion thinks about the habitat he’s navigated to on the Preserve.


Regardless, this could be good news for our camera team and we’ll find out at our next camera check whether this lion was busy walking perimeter areas, and perhaps padding by our camera locations on his scent-marking mission!

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The Bureau of Land Management initiated a mountain lion study on the Cosumnes River Preserve in collaboration with the California Department Fish and Wildlife in 2014. Currently, the study is being carried out by an all-volunteer crew of dedicated individuals who receive support and oversight from the Bureau of Land Management. The Sacramento Zoo has awarded a grant to the Mountain Lion Foundation which has allowed the Foundation to purchase and loan ten trail cameras to the Preserve to help carry out this study. The goal is to find and document a mountain lion on the Cosumnes River Preserve.

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Do mountain lions spray to mark territory? ›

Male mountain lions can leave scat in the middle of a road or pathway or if they're actively scent-marking, they'll use their back legs to kick together some dirt, twigs and leaves into a scratch pile and then either defecate or urinate on the pile, leaving these calling cards along the borders of their territory.

What is a lions scent marking? ›

Lion scent-marks are indicators of their territorial areas, reproductive state, fitness, individuality, genetic variation, and sexual differentiation13, 24,25,26. Lion semiochemicals are excreted through feces, facial rubbing, urine, and marking fluid (MF).

Does Mountain Lion urine work? ›

Cougar pee is an extremely effective territorial deception scent that creates the illusion that these animals' most dangerous predator is ready to strike. If you live in the south or west and you're searching for a natural javelina, wild boar, wild pig, or armadillo deterrent, browse mountain lion urine for sale below.

How strong is a mountain lions sense of smell? ›

By comparison, Mountain Lions have a weak sense of smell. This is the trade-off cats made millions of years ago. Evolving short muzzles increased biting power, but decreased the sense of smell. Mountain Lions are known as ambush hunters.

Does bear pepper spray work on mountain lions? ›

If you carry bear spray, make sure you know how to use it and keep it within reach whenever you might encounter a bear. If your initial body language doesn't defuse the situation, wait until the bear is within fifteen feet to discharge the spray. Bear spray works equally effectively on mountain lions.

What scent attracts mountain lions? ›

The mountain-lion, attracted by the catnip odor in the plate, steps into the trap when approaching the lure.

Is scent marking peeing? ›

Dogs use urine to mark territory—to leave a message, so to speak. Then other dogs come along and check the message and may leave a message of their own by marking over or adjacent to the original spot.

How does scent marking work? ›

Scent marking is a form of olfactory communication used by an animal that deposits its odor in specific places to transmit a signal to other animal. Scent marking is mainly defined as a behavior displayed to mark territory ownership (Gosling 1982).

How long does cat scent marking last? ›

Urine marks retain their olfactory-communicative component for roughly three days, and are then re-marked by the cat when the odor begins to fade.

What smell deters mountain lions? ›

They, like all cats, have extremely sensitive noses and don't like having them abused. So, they'll respond swiftly to a dose of pepper spray, meaning they'll almost always beat a hasty retreat.

Will mountain lion urine keep deer away? ›

Predator urine is a completely natural, safe repellent for animals such as voles, rabbits, deer, moles, chipmunks, and other animals that love grazing on crops.

Does mountain lion urine deter raccoons? ›

If you need a more effective pest control repellent, use mountain lion urine, coyote urine, or wolf urine. After various surfaces around your yard are sprayed, raccoons will not go near your property.

What animal has the strongest scent? ›

A breed of dogs known as the bloodhounds have an acute smelling ability, 300 times stronger when compared to humans. They are able to locate scents older than two weeks. Likewise, they are known to examine scent trails on terrains longer than 100 miles.

Will a loud whistle scare a mountain lion? ›

Bring along a whistle or an air horn that could help scare away wild animals you may encounter.

What happens if a mountain lion sees you? ›

If you see a mountain lion:

Hold your ground or back away slowly. Face the lion and stand upright. Do not approach a lion. Never approach a mountain lion, especially one that is feeding or with kittens.

Will a stun gun stop a mountain lion? ›

So will a Taser stop a cougar? Yes, if you can get close enough and, more importantly, if your aim is true. Tasers fire two probes on 15- to 35-foot lines, and to be effective, both probes must hit. When they do, 5,000 volts jam the nervous system, causing temporary paralysis and a jolt of pain.

What is the best Defence against mountain lions? ›

Hold your ground or back away slowly. Continue facing the mountain lion, and maintain eye contact. Do all you can to appear larger; Stand upright, raise your arms, raise your walking stick, open your jacket. If you have small children or pets with you, try to pick them up without turning away or bending over.

What is the best protection against mountain lions? ›

Protect Yourself from Mountain Lions
  • Stay calm. Hold your ground and back away slowly. ...
  • Do not approach a lion. Never approach a mountain lion, especially one that is feeding or with kittens. ...
  • Do not run from a lion. Running may stimulate a mountain lion's instinct to chase. ...
  • Do not crouch down or bend over.
Jan 20, 2020

What cologne attracts lions? ›

Louise Ginman of Sydney's Taronga Zoo told Scientific American that lions, tigers, and snow leopards all love Calvin Klein cologne.

What colors are mountain lions attracted to? ›

Deer are the lion's favorite meal, and so it's important for people to look as human as possible. Wearing brightly contrasting clothing can help a lion distinguish you from its natural prey. Although lions do not see colors as we do, dark, midtone or drab woodsy colors will make you look more like a deer.

What time of day are mountain lions most active? ›

They are most active between dusk and dawn, and generally avoid contact with humans. Stay safe in mountain lion country • Do not hike, bike or jog alone. Avoid hiking or jogging when mountain lions are most active – dawn, dusk, and at night. Keep a close watch on small children.

Do belly bands stop dogs from marking? ›

Belly bands can also be used with dogs that mark regularly. Keep in mind that these do not teach dogs not to mark, it merely prevents the urine from reaching its intended target. If belly bands are used they need to be checked at least once an hour and if they are wet, replaced with a new one.

Do females scent mark? ›

Female dogs also engage in urine-marking. However, the behavior could be an indication of anxiety. You may be surprised to know marking behavior is not solely in the male province.

How can you tell the difference between pee and marking? ›

General Differences Between Urine Marking and Regular Urination in Dogs
Urine MarkingRegular Urination
Dog raises legDog squats (although many stick to raising leg)
Dog pees on vertical objectsDog pees on flat surfaces
Dog carefully sniffs the area before peeingDog just pees
Dog is over 1 year oldDog is under 1 year old
1 more row
Jul 31, 2022

How long does it take for a scent to stick? ›

The chemicals creating these smells evaporate more slowly from your skin. They're probably what you remember about the perfume; if it's a floral perfume, flowery smells go here. Base notes stick stubbornly to your skin. You smell them within 5 to 8 hours of application [source: Sell].

What is an example of scent marking? ›

Examples include: Felids such as leopards and jaguars mark by rubbing themselves against vegetation. One ungulate, the Blue Wildebeest, uses scent marking from two glands, the preorbital gland and a scent gland in the hoof.

How long does a cat scent stay in a house? ›

The smell can last 3-5 days. Cats can smell over a mile depending on wind conditions. Then make the scent strip and “Cat Chum” (Described below) trails back in the most direct and safe way to your house and/or traps.

Can you stop cats from marking? ›

Get Your Cat Spayed or Neutered

This is the most reliable and effective way to stop marking. If frequent spraying is becoming an issue, spaying or neutering them is most likely your best course of action.

Is cat marking the same as peeing? ›

Urine-marking takes two forms:

Their tail often quivers while they're spray- ing. Regular urinating is when they squat to pee on the furniture, the floor, things lying on the floor or any other horizontal surface. Both males and females can (and do) spray and squat.

Does ammonia keep mountain lions away? ›

Placing ammonia-soaked rags in dens or other places where animals have taken up residence will encourage them to leave.

What do mountain lions dislike? ›

Despite how large and dangerous cougars are, they'll get scared by a sudden loud noise like any other animal. Plus, you can set alarms on timers to make sure they go off at certain times of the day when you've spotted cougars coming onto your property.

What do mountain lions fear? ›

As it goes with most wild animals, mountain lions are more afraid of you than you are of them. In fact, studies have shown that the human voice is enough to send the big cats fleeing—even if they're in the middle of dinner.

Should I pee out of my deer stand? ›

In contrast, peeing from a treestand or ground blind instantly releases several ounces of warm, fresh human odors that could scare nearby prey. Therefore, many hunters refrain from peeing from or near their stands.

What do deer think about human pee? ›

Yes, deer are attracted to the odor of urine. Not just that from does in estrous, but also urine from other mammals – even you – in the fall. Biologists have told me that mammal urine is socially interesting to deer, and other mammals, but not distinguishable among species or even gender.

What kills mountain lions? ›

Their natural enemies include other large predators such as bears and, at one time in California, wolves. Unfortunately, mountain lions also fall victim to accidents, disease and their chief enemy is people with whom they compete for food and territory.

What does aluminum foil do to raccoons? ›

From string, or a clothing line strung across a fence, hang balloons, strips of cloth or aluminum foil. These will frighten the animals and encourage them to leave the area. Remove or cover all possible food sources. Seal food in tightly closed containers of glass or metal.

Does Irish Spring soap keep raccoons away? ›

Soap the yard

Raccoons use their superb sense of smell to forage for food, and some scents are really effective at keeping them away. The ingredients in Irish Spring soap are generally effective in keeping raccoons and other small mammals out of your yard.

Does Pine Sol keep raccoons away? ›

Homemade Raccoon Repellents that can be used

Ammonia - It can be applied or soaked onto pieces of cloth or even kept in small opened bottles. The soaked pieces of cloth can be placed around the house, such as near food sources or around garbage cans and bins. Pine Sol can also be used in place of ammonia.

What animals smell better than dogs? ›

Dogs, most of us think, have the best noses on the planet. But a new study reveals that this honor actually goes to elephants. The power of a mammal's sniffer hinges on the number and type of its olfactory receptor genes.

What is the smartest animal? ›

1: Chimpanzee

Chimpanzees can learn sign language to communicate with humans. Topping our list of smartest animals is another great ape, the chimpanzee. The impressive intellectual abilities of this animal have long fascinated humans.

What animal has the best memory? ›

The new research shows that dolphins have the longest memory yet known in any species other than people. Elephants and chimpanzees are thought to have similar abilities, but they haven't yet been tested, said study author Jason Bruck, an animal behaviorist at the University of Chicago.

Will a flashlight scare a mountain lion? ›

While a steady light will not scare lions, flickering lights from multiple sources confuses them, and indicates the presence of something larger than them, making it a risk “not worth taking”.

Will a mountain lion chase you? ›

By their nature, mountain lions like to give chase. If you run away, the mountain lion may chase you. To defend yourself, back away slowly, or stand your ground.

Should you look a lion in the eyes? ›

If you encounter an aggressive lion, stare him down. But not a leopard; avoid his gaze at all costs. In both cases, back away slowly; don't run.

Can you shoot a mountain lion in self defense? ›

An individual is not guilty of a violation of this section if it is demonstrated that, in taking or injuring a mountain lion, the individual was acting in self-defense or in defense of others.

How do you know if a mountain lion is around you? ›

Some signs of mountain lion presence include large tracks (3-5 inches wide) without claw marks; food caches, where a kill has been partially eaten and then covered with brush and dirt; scrapes in soft dirt or leaf litter, and claw marked trees & logs.

Will a dog scare off a mountain lion? ›

The first is that a dog has more awareness than people and will alert you if a mountain lion is near, and might even scare the mountain lion off.

Do cougars spray urine? ›

Although other species of cats “spray” urine and other fluids to scent mark, cougars do not appear to conduct this behavior.

What do lions spray to territory? ›

Lions are famous for their sonorous roar but have other forms of communication as well, mostly used to mark territory. They spread their scent by rubbing their muzzle on tufts of grass or shrubs, and they rake the earth with their hind paws, as the paws have scent glands, too. Adult males also spray urine as a message.

Do all cats spray to mark their territory? ›

Although female cats as well as neutered and spayed cats can urine mark, unneutered males have more reason to do so. One function of urine marking is to advertise reproductive availability, so unneutered males may urine mark to let females know they are available.

What do cats spray when they mark their territory? ›

Urine-marking takes two forms:

Spraying is when a cat backs up to a vertical surface with their tail erect and squirts urine. Their tail often quivers while they're spray- ing. Regular urinating is when they squat to pee on the furniture, the floor, things lying on the floor or any other horizontal surface.

Will pepper spray stop a cougar? ›

It's a wonderful defense against mountain lions (also known as cougars, pumas, or panthers). They, like all cats, have extremely sensitive noses and don't like having them abused. So, they'll respond swiftly to a dose of pepper spray, meaning they'll almost always beat a hasty retreat.

Can dogs sense cougars? ›

A dog can see, smell, and hear a cougar sooner then we can. Although dogs offer little value as a deterrent to cougars, they may distract a cougar from attacking a human. Consider erecting a fence around play areas.

What time of day are cougars most active? ›

Cougars are most active from dusk to dawn, but it is not unusual for cougars to hunt anytime during the day. Adult cougars typically prey on deer, elk, moose, mountain goats, and wild sheep, with deer being the preferred and most common prey.

What do lions fear most? ›

Lions have few predators to fear other than humans. A very young or sickly lion might fall prey to hyenas. Cubs may be attacked and eaten by adult male lions.

What are the signs of mountain lion presence? ›

Signs of Cougar Presence

They use mounds of scraped and scratched earth, pine needles and other forest litter, soaked with urine and feces. The feces are usually large, partially covered and contain hair and bone fragments. Cougar tracks look like those of a house cat, but are the size of a baseball.

What is a lion's natural enemy? ›

Do lions have predators? No predators hunt lions to eat them; however, they do have a few natural enemies, such as hyenas and cheetahs. Hyenas compete with lions for food and often try to steal their kills.

How do I stop my neighbor's cat from spraying? ›

Scatter fresh grounded orange and lemon peels or spray the area with citrus-scented fragrances. Coffee grounds, pipe tobacco, oil of lavender, lemongrass, citronella, and eucalyptus also deter cats.

What's the difference between spraying and peeing in cats? ›

Cats urinate by squatting onto a horizontal surface; spraying occurs standing up. The cat makes a treading motion with her back feet and quivers her tail, leaving her scent mark on a vertical surface. If your cat has begun urinating outside of her litter box, be sure that the box is regularly cleaned.

Where do cats spray the most? ›

When a cat urinates outside the litter box, there tends to be more urine, and you'll usually find the pee on horizontal surfaces like a rug or bed. Inappropriate urination is often associated with lower urinary tract disease or litter texture aversion. Cat spraying is more likely caused by underlying stress or anxiety.

What triggers cats to spray? ›

Cats commonly urine-spray when they want or feel they need to mark their territory, when they feel threatened, or due to a medical condition.

How long does cat spray smell last? ›

How long does cat spray scent last? Effectively, cat urine odour can last forever. It's one of the most persistent smells imaginable, with a way of hanging around no matter how much you try to scrub the stain or cover up the offending smell with air fresheners or pot-pourri.

Is marking the same as spraying for cats? ›

Spraying and urine marking are similar behaviors that both involve a cat excreting urine outside of the litter box. However, the difference between spraying and urine marking is the behavior surrounding the actual urination. During urine marking, a cat will squat on the ground and expel small amounts of urine.


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