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Animal Themes

Animal Themes
Animal Themes

Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 7 to 9
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   7.23

     challenging words:    concolor, high-jumping, motion-sensitive, henceforth, brink, human-like, catamount, needless, expansion, better, sightings, regard, critical, backyards, killing, extinction
     content words:    North America, South Americas, New England

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By Vickie Chao

1     In the world of science, Puma concolor (or Felis concolor) is a cat species that used to roam free all over the Americas. But over the course of the last century, it has faced some tough challenges. As a result, its distribution has shrunk considerably, limiting it to only the western part of North America and sporadically across Central and South America.
2     Of course, the phrase Puma concolor might be a term that most people are not familiar with. But names like "cougar," "puma," "mountain lion," "Florida panther," or "catamount" are something we have heard. And, surprisingly, they are all aliases of Puma concolor. As a matter of fact, Puma concolor has so many different common names in the English language that there are probably more than forty names for it.
3     Fortunately, despite confusion in regard to the species' multiple identities, its general anatomy remains more or less the same. With the exception of some minor variances in its color and size, a fully-grown cougar is characterized as having spotless tawny to grayish fur. (A cougar cub, on the other hand, is spotted at birth.) Both its belly and the areas above its eyes are pale. The backs of its ears and the tip of its tail are black. Depending on where it lives, an adult cougar may be up to 8 feet long (including a long tail of 2-3 feet) and weigh more than 150 pounds. The animal cannot roar. It purrs and makes eerily human-like screams. It has excellent eyesight and hearing. It is also very athletic. Its favorite sports are swimming, high-jumping, and running. When it is hungry, it prefers to stalk its prey and ambush it from behind. As it latches onto its doomed victim with its sharp claws, it goes straight for its neck and breaks it easily with a quick bite. As far as meals are concerned, cougars like deer a lot. But they also eat many other things, such as elk, moose, rabbits, or raccoons. Whenever they manage to pull off a successful hunt, they tend to bury their kill under a pile of leaves and twigs so they can come back for it later on.

Paragraphs 4 to 6:
For the complete story with questions: click here for printable

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Animal Themes
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