Big cats make some of the most notorious sounds in the animal kingdom. From an adorable purr to a terrifying roar, cats communicate in a number of ways. Interestingly, mountain lions have unique noises and communication styles that are unique to this species.
For example, did you know that mountain lions are not capable of roaring like other big cats? Instead, mountain lions sound a lot like a regular house cats, just a bit louder. They also communicate in a number of other ways, such as through body language and smell.
To learn more about how mountain lions communicate, keep reading. This guide covers all of the most important communication styles of mountain lions and what you should do if you hear a mountain lion during your own adventures. Let’s get started.
How Do Mountain Lions Communicate?
Table of Contents
- 1 How Do Mountain Lions Communicate?
- 1.1 Do Mountain Lions Make A Lot Of Noises?
- 1.2 Do Mountain Lions Communicate In Other Ways Than Sounds?
- 2 When Do Mountain Lions Vocalize The Most? (Night, Day, Season, etc)
- 2.1 Are Mountain Lions Very Loud?
- 3 Specific Mountain Lion Sounds
- 3.1 What Does An Angry Mountain Lion Sound Like?
- 3.2 Do Mountain Lions Have Specific Mating Calls?
- 3.3 Do Mountain Lions Roar?
- 3.4 Do Mountain Lions Growl?
- 3.5 Will Mountain Lions Purr Like A Cat?
- 3.6 Do Mountain Lions Meow?
- 3.7 Do Mountain Lions Hiss?
- 3.8 Can Mountain Lions Really Chirp Like A Bird?
- 3.9 Do Mountain Lions Make Screaming or Squeaking Sounds?
- 4 Do Male And Female Mountain Lions Make Different Sounds?
- 5 Will Juvenile and Adult Mountain Lions Have Different Vocalizations?
- 6 What To Do If You Hear A Mountain Lion?
- 7 Author
Mountain Lions communicate in a number of different ways. They communicate through sounds, such as hisses, purrs, growls, and screams. They also communicate through touch, scent-marking, and body language when communicating with other mountain lions specifically.
The most obvious way that mountain lions communicate with one another and other animals is through sounds. Adult mountain lions will hiss, growl, and scream in negative circumstances. Much like domesticated cats, they will purr whenever they are happy.
Although sound is the most obvious way that mountain lions communicate, they communicate in other ways as well. For example, touch is an important way that mothers and cubs communicate with one another. Touch establishes social bonding between the mothers and cubs, which allows the cubs to grow healthily.
A unique way that mountain lions communicate, which is strange to us, is through scent marking. Many species scent-mark as a way to express territorial boundaries and mating. Mountain lions are examples of species that use territory marking as a form of communication.
Of course, Mountain Lions also communicate through body language. This is a common form of communication amongst most animals. How mountain lions hold their eyes and bodies express a lot to other mountain lions and animals.
Do Mountain Lions Make A Lot Of Noises?
Mountain lions make a lot of noises, but they may not be audible or noticeable at first. Whenever mountain lions are in the woods, they make as little noise as possible in order to sneak up on their prey. Whenever they decide to make noises, they often sound like a person whistling or a bird chirping. The growls are about the sound of an overgrown housecat.
Kittens have a slightly different sound. Often, kittens have a raspy or loud purr. If you are close enough to hear the kittens make noises, you are likely close enough to hear the mother mountain lion growl and protect its young.
If you hear a bloodcurdling scream, it is most likely not a mountain lion. Even though mountain lions can make a variety of noises, they are normally not loud unless they are mating or fighting each other, which is relatively uncommon.
In other words, mountain lions make a lot of noises, but they often aren’t loud. You have to be very close to the mountain lion in order to hear its different noises and vocalizations. It is not recommended to get close enough to the mountain lion to listen to these vocalizations since these creatures are dangerous.
Do Mountain Lions Communicate In Other Ways Than Sounds?
Some of the most important ways that mountain lions communicate is through ways other than sounds. Mountain lions communicate with one another through touch, smell, and even sight. In many circumstances, these non-audible communications are more telling than the sounds they make.
From a young age, touch is one of the most important ways that mountain lions communicate. The touch between the mother and the cub is what begins the establishment of social bonding amongst the creatures. As mountain lions get older, touch is more reserved, but it can tell a lot about the mountain lion.
From the time the mountain lion is a cub to the time it is geriatric, smell is the most important communication mode. Mountain lions will mark their territory with special scents and their urine. Other mountain lions can smell this scent in order to pick up territory or to determine if another mountain lion in the area is ready to mate.
Communication through sight occurs throughout the entire mountain lion’s life as well. Holding eye contact is a way of establishing dominance. Mountain lions will even hold their body in a different position before they are ready to pounce. Mountain lions recognize this visible communication and will respond accordingly.
When Do Mountain Lions Vocalize The Most? (Night, Day, Season, etc)
Mountain lions vocalize the most during mating. Because there is no specific mating season for mountain lions, mating sounds can happen any time of year.
Male lions are most likely to vocalize whenever they are competing over the same female, and female mountain lions will scream during the actual mating process.
Outside of mating, mountain lions are not very vocal. There are practically no reports of loud mountain lion noises during hunting. Mountain lions don’t randomly make noises either. So, mountain lions are most likely to make noise while mating.
Are Mountain Lions Very Loud?
Mountain lions are not very loud. In fact, they aren’t much louder than a large house cat. In order to hear mountain lions clearly, you have to be very close and within a dangerous distance to the animal. The only time mountain lions get possibly loud is during mating whenever they scream, though this isn’t always the case.
Specific Mountain Lion Sounds
As covered above, mountain lions make a variety of sounds. Let’s take a look at the specific sounds mountain lions make, including mating calls, growls, meows, and purrs.
What Does An Angry Mountain Lion Sound Like?
Mountain lions make similar sounds to a domesticated cats whenever they are angry. For example, angry mountain lions often hiss whenever they are angry. The sound of their hiss is just slightly louder and deeper than the average house cat.
Do Mountain Lions Have Specific Mating Calls?
Surprisingly, the mountain lions’ mating call is actually the scariest sound they make. Whenever mountain lions are mating, they make a sound that is called a scream. This sound is aptly named because it is a blood-curdling scream.
The mountain lion’s mating scream is so scary sounding that most people mistake it as being the sign of an angry mountain lion or a mountain lion ready to pounce. On the contrary, these terrifying screams happen whenever mountain lions are mating.
Do Mountain Lions Roar?
Mountain lions do not roar in the way tigers or lions do. Instead, females have a loud scream, which is normally done to attract a male or during mating season. If you hear a mountain lion screaming, it is trying to attract a mate.
The reason that mountain lions cannot roar has to do with their larynx. Mountain lions have a completely different larynx from african lions and tigers. Because of this different larynx, mountain lions cannot roar, but they scream.
Do Mountain Lions Growl?
Mountain lions growl just like most other cats. However, the growl of a mountain lion is not very loud. Instead, a mountain lion’s growl is just slightly louder than the average house cat. The sound may be low, but it is a serious warning sign to be aware of.
Will Mountain Lions Purr Like A Cat?
Mountain lions are known to purr like a cat whenever they are content. You are most likely to see a purring mountain lion at a zoo or some other big cat enclosure. Wild mountain lions rarely, if ever, purr around humans because they are on the defense.
Interestingly, the purr of a mountain lion is actually a lot louder than that of an average house cat. In fact, a full-grown mountain lion can purr twenty times louder than pet cats. This fact is interesting given that most other noises mountain lions make are about the same as housecat.
Do Mountain Lions Meow?
Whenever mountain lions are cubs, they will meow, much like household kittens. Mountain lions grow out of this meowing sound as they grow. Once an adult, mountain lions express what they want through growls, hisses, and purrs, not meows.
Do Mountain Lions Hiss?
Mountain lions hiss whenever they are displeased. Often, the mountain lions hiss is accompanied by growls and spitting as well. If you ever see a mountain lion hiss, it’s important to be aware of your surroundings and act quickly.
Can Mountain Lions Really Chirp Like A Bird?
Mountain lions have a unique ability to make a noise that almost sounds like a bird chirp. It is unclear exactly why mountain lions do this, but some domesticated cats have also been known to make this sound.
Interestingly, mountain lions often chirp like a bird whenever they are content or at peace. As a result, chirping sounds are often accompanied by purring sounds as well.
Some experts believe that this trait has developed as a way to entice birds and capture more prey. Other experts believe that this trait developed as a way to communicate over long distances since high-pitched sounds can travel further than low-pitched sounds.
Do Mountain Lions Make Screaming or Squeaking Sounds?
Yes. One of the most terrifying noises that the mountain lion makes is a screaming noise. Mountain lions almost exclusively scream whenever they are trying to attract a mate or during the actual mating process. Males may scream when fighting over a female with another male, whereas females scream to attract males and while they mate.
Do Male And Female Mountain Lions Make Different Sounds?
Male and female mountain lions do not make different sounds, but they often make the sounds at different times.
For instance, both male and female mountain lions can scream. Males are most likely to scream whenever they are fighting over a single female. Females, in contrast, will scream while they are by themselves in order to attract a mate. Females will also scream during the mating process.
Will Juvenile and Adult Mountain Lions Have Different Vocalizations?
Juvenile and adult mountain lions make different sounds. Juvenile mountain lions mainly communicate like regular household cats. They purr, hiss, and meow. As the mountain lions age, they lose their ability to meow, but they continue purring, hissing, growling, screaming, and chirping.
What To Do If You Hear A Mountain Lion?
If you hear a mountain lion, you are too close for comfort since these creatures are normally very quiet. It’s important that you make yourself look big and try to scare the mountain lion away. Do not crouch down, turn around, or play dead.
Instead, try to make yourself look bigger by standing up straight, waving your arms slowly, and speaking firmly in a loud voice. Even if you do not know where the mountain lion is, try to make yourself seem as intimidating as possible. If you know where the mountain lion is located, directly face it and make yourself appear large.
If appearing bigger does not scare the mountain lion away, begin throwing small items in your reach in the direction of the mountain lion. For example, branches and stones will work but do not crouch down or turn your back at any point. Furthermore, don’t throw the objects directly at the mountain lion because this may anger it. The goal is to scare the mountain lion away.
In the case that the mountain lion begins to approach, that is when you should begin to actively defend yourself. You can hit the mountain lion with rocks, sticks, or metal objects on your body. However, only fight back once the mountain lion attacks you.
If you come into contact with a mountain lion, report the sighting immediately to the forest officials, State Park officials, or National Park Service. This includes sightings, encounters, and attacks. These reportings help to protect other people in the area.
Hi, I'm Tommy! I'm the founder of Floofmania.com. I am an animal enthusiast and self-proclaimed wildlife expert as well as a dog trainer and breeder of the breed Löwchen. Since I was a kid, I’ve been wildly fascinated by animals, both from growing up in a rural area where there were always animals around, but especially from seeing them in the wild.
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Mountain lions make little noise in the woods. When they do, they often sound like a person whistling or a bird chirping. When they growl, they sound like an overgrown house cat. Kittens have a raspy, loud purr.What does it mean when a mountain lion makes a sound? ›
While it may seem like an intimidating sound, mountain lions aren't actually screaming to try and scare you. Instead, screaming is a part of their mating rituals. Because mountain lions rarely share territories and thus live so spread out, it can be difficult to tell when a female has gone into heat.What does a mountain lion scream mean? ›
Their growl resembles that of a loud house cat. The associated “scream” of a mountain lion is typically a female looking for a male mate, whose range can encompass 50 to 150 square miles.
They use low-pitched hisses, growls, purrs, yowls, and screams in different circumstances. Loud, chirping whistles by young serves to call the mother. Touch is important in social bonding between mother and young. Scent marking is important in advertising territory boundaries and willingness to mate.Should you make noise if you see a mountain lion? ›
Avoiding Mountain Lions on the Trail or in the Backcountry
Even at a distance a brief glimpse should be cause for alarm. Though the cougar is most likely to leave the area, you should group together and travel with great caution. Make your presence known. Make noise, sing, talk loudly, or wear a bell.
A relaxed pride of lions will display their contentment with a variety of small, happy noises that indicate that all is well in lion-land and that the pride members are getting along. You'll hear little moans and huffing and snorts, and a growling-hum that many safari-goers might mistake for purring.Do mountain lions make weird noises? ›
Mountain lions make little noise in the woods. When they do, they often sound like a person whistling or a bird chirping. When they growl, they sound like an overgrown house cat.What sound does an angry cougar make? ›
Cougars do not roar. The screeching sound is similar to that of a human female screaming, and male and female cougars alike are capable of it. It also is sometimes described as the noise of a wailing child or a pain-induced, suffering and miserable shriek.How do you know if a mountain lion is around you? ›
Cougar signs include tracks, scat, scratches and cached (partially buried) prey. Seeing a lion in the wild is an especially rare occurrence. Cougars are solitary, elusive, and very stealthy.What to do if you hear a mountain lion? ›
Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice. If looking bigger doesn't scare the mountain lion off, without crouching or turning your back, start throwing stones, branches, or whatever you can reach in its direction (e.g., toward it, but not directly at it).
Yes, mountain lions attack human beings, but these attacks are rare and infrequently fatal. Although mountain lions can grow large, they are often smaller than adult humans, so it's possible to fight them off. In one case, a jogger who was attacked by a juvenile mountain lion eventually choked the animal to death.What does it mean when a mountain lion whistles? ›
It is still unclear exactly why cougars make this call, but it may be that this vocal incongruity is by design, allowing cubs to safely call out to their mothers and adult lions to call each other without alerting potential prey that they are in the area.What sounds are mountain lions afraid of? ›
Study Shows That Mountain Lions Fear the Sound of Human Voices. The largest wild cat in North America, the mountain lion—also known as a catamount, cougar, panther and puma—has powerful limbs and can leap as high as 15 feet and as far as 40 feet.Are mountain lions afraid of dogs? ›
Mountain lions are apex predators with the ability to kill elk, mule deer, and coyotes with ease – but they aren't usually aggressive toward hikers and their dogs. Dog breeds that are large, powerful, and possess protective instincts, like the German Shepard, are excellent dogs to have on a wilderness hike.How rare is it to see a mountain lion? ›
California is mountain lion territory — but you may never see one in the wild. With an estimated population between 4,000 to 6,000 in California, cougars have a secretive nature and attacks are exceedingly rare, given that they share habitat with 39 million Californians.What colors deter mountain lions? ›
Mountain lions do not see color as well as high contrast, so white wiring will be more effective than red, orange or yellow.What is the crying sound of lion? ›
Answer: Cry of Lion Is called A roar.What is lion crying sound called? ›
Lion. roar, growl, snarl.What does hearing a lion roar mean? ›
Roars are used to signal territoriality and to locate distant pride members. Both male and female lions demonstrate ownership of territories via roaring and are able to gauge the strength of opposition based on the number of roars heard from other groups.Do mountain lions scare easily? ›
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. “If they don't want you to see them, you probably won't,” says Dr.
Mountain lions are stealthy predators, hunting at night and often lying in wait for prey or silently stalking it before pouncing from behind and delivering a lethal bite to the spinal cord.What animal sounds like a yelling person? ›
Male limpkins are well known for producing a repetitive, high-pitched wail or scream that sounds remarkably human-like when it wakes you up in the dead of night.What happens if you scream at a cougar? ›
You can yell words, swear, or just scream at the cougar, so long as you sound aggressive. This may also attract assistance from others that will help scare the cougar away. Do not try to calm the cougar down with gentle language – it will not work.Can you outrun a cougar? ›
And FYI, you cannot outrun a mountain lion, they can run up to 50mph. Here's what you should do: Put your hands in the air, make noise, and act bigger than you are. If you have trekking poles, raise them up too and get ready to use them if it approaches you.What time of day are cougars most active? ›
Food and feeding habits. 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 should you do if a mountain lion is outside your house? ›
Make noise by yelling, blowing a whistle or an air horn. If you have an umbrella, quickly open and close it while facing the cougar. Do not approach the cougar. Give it ample space to run away – don't corner it.Do cougars stay in one area? ›
Instead, they don't usually have one set home. Their territories tend to range across 100 miles, and they regularly patrol along the length of it. Even as mountain lions hunt, they are traversing their territory and keeping their eyes out for others of their kind.When mountain lions are your neighbors? ›
When Mountain Lions Are Neighbors explores this evolving dynamic between humans and animals, including remarkable stories like the journey of the wolf OR-7 and how Californians are welcoming wolves back to the state after a ninety-year absence, how park staff and millions of visitors rallied to keep Yosemite's famed ...Are mountain lions aggressive towards humans? ›
Human encounters with mountain lions are rare and the risk of an attack is infinitely small. You are more likely to drown in your bathtub, be killed by a pet dog, or hit by lightning. If lions had any natural urge to hunt people, there would be attacks every single day. Instead, they avoid us.Are mountain lions scared of humans? ›
But remember as with most wildlife, mountain lions are more afraid of you than you are of them. Mountain lions continue to demonstrate a strong aversion to people. Studies have even shown they will leave a meal behind to avoid someone within earshot.
Key Points: Colorado has the highest known population of mountain lions with a maximum of 7000. Mountain lions thrive there due to the high elk population, dense forests, and isolated mountain ranges. There is no known estimate of the number of mountain lions inhabiting Texas.Can mountain lions be friendly? ›
A cougar can be tamed in the sense that it can be used to being around humans in a fairly calm manner. This is essentially what happens with animals held in a zoo. They are still wild animals and can still be dangerous.How strong is a mountain lions bite? ›
Mountain lions have a bite pressure of approximately 400 pounds per square inch, not as much as larger lions or tigers, but PLENTY to get the job done.Will a whistle scare a mountain lion? ›
Trails with sharp turn are the most crucial but I recommend all outdoor enthusiasts carry a $2 whistle and/or use a horn. If you blow the whistle every few minutes on a bike (and at every corner) you will avoid a surprise encounter with wildlife.”What scents do mountain lions hate? ›
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. Of course, the trick is HITTING the damned thing with the pepper spray. Mountain lions are fast and stealthy.What do lions fear most? ›
In general, lions don't hunt and run without any fear at all. These animals are afraid of large animals such as elephants and hippos. Moreover, they can be afraid of the other prey since all animals would resist their attacks. However, all these fears would get overpowered by their hunger.What animal scares lions? ›
Key Points. Elephants and rhinos are the animals most likely to kill lions. The humble porcupine is a threat to mighty lions.What to do if you see a mountain lion with your dog? ›
Don't panic. In case of an encounter with a mountain lion, the best way to ensure your and your dog's safety is to back away slowly while trying to look as big as possible—raise your arms or open your jacket over your head. Make noise by yelling, banging your water bottle, or blowing a whistle.Who would win a fight between a pitbull and a mountain lion? ›
The mountain lion is the winner!
Mountain lions are bigger, stronger, faster, and more experienced with fighting. These big cats are used to taking down animals as large as elk to survive.
Colorado mountain lions can reach 8 feet in length and can weigh 150 pounds. Their diet typically consists of deer and elk, but they are well known for attacking domestic animals, including pets.
Of all the states, Colorado can boast for having a population of up to 7,000 mountain lions, the most known to researchers.How do you know if a cougar is in the area? ›
Cougar mark their territory along trails, under trees, or on the edge of a ridge. 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.What are the odds of being attacked by a mountain lion? ›
The historical average odds of any one individual being fatally attacked by a mountain lion in the United States is about one in a billion, or three times LESS likely than that same individual getting the winning numbers in tonight's Powerball Lottery.What do mountain lions not like? ›
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 scent attracts mountain lions? ›
The mountain-lion, attracted by the catnip odor in the plate, steps into the trap when approaching the lure.Why do mountain lions scream at night? ›
Screaming allows for mountain lions to attract male mates. As a result, the answer to why do mountain lions scream is actually quite simple: it's their way of dating! Occasionally, you may hear a male scream, but it is much less common.What does it mean when a lion roars at you? ›
Male lions roar to show their power. Leading males also use their roars to defend their territory, scaring off intruders.Why do mountain lions whistle? ›
It is still unclear exactly why cougars make this call, but it may be that this vocal incongruity is by design, allowing cubs to safely call out to their mothers and adult lions to call each other without alerting potential prey that they are in the area.What to do if mountain lion stalks you? ›
Wave your arms slowly and speak firmly in a loud voice. If looking bigger doesn't scare the mountain lion off, without crouching or turning your back, start throwing stones, branches, or whatever you can reach in its direction (e.g., toward it, but not directly at it).How long away can you hear a Lions roar? ›
A lion's roar can be heard five miles away
It's so loud it can reach 114 decibels (at a distance of around one metre) and can be heard from as far away as five miles.
: the deep cry of a wild animal (such as a lion) : a loud deep cry (as of pain or anger) 3. : a loud continuous confused sound.How do lions show anger? ›
When a lion is angry or feeling threatened it will sweep its tail from side to side. If it is hunting, it will keep its tail stiff and twitch it from time to time. It is much more serious if it is actively hunting you.What month roars in like a lion? ›
As the old saying goes, March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb.What does it mean when lions purr? ›
Both these wild felines can make a variety of household cat sounds. Baby mountain lions (also called pumas and cougars in different parts of the country) and baby bobcats meow like household kittens. As adults, they growl, hiss and spit when they are displeased. When they are contented, they purr.What noise do cougars make? ›
Although fellow cats such as lions frequently are associated with loud roaring, cougars, on the other hand, often make piercing and shrill screaming vocalizations. Cougars do not roar. The screeching sound is similar to that of a human female screaming, and male and female cougars alike are capable of it.Are mountain lions scared of anything? ›
But remember as with most wildlife, mountain lions are more afraid of you than you are of them. Mountain lions continue to demonstrate a strong aversion to people. Studies have even shown they will leave a meal behind to avoid someone within earshot.