Conejo Open Space is home to the "Pacific Rattlesnake" (Crotalus viridis helleri). These snakes can be recognized by:

Protecting Yourself 

Mountain Lions


Mountain lions (Felis concolor) are the largest native North American cat except for the slightly larger jaguar. Mountain lions are known by a number of different names--cougar, panther, painter, catamount, and puma. They are primarily nocturnal, shy, elusive, and solitary (except during the breeding season and when young are traveling with the female). They are very fast animals over a short distance, but because of relatively small lung capacity, cannot run great distances. They are agile tree climbers. Males are generally larger than females, averaging 130 to 150 pounds in weight and ranging in length from 42 to 90 inches. Females average 65 to 90 pounds. Pads on the forefeet are larger than those on the hind feet. Heelpads on both the fore- and hind feet have a distinctive three-lobe appearance. Claw-marks seldom show in the tracks of this species.

Mountain lions may be encountered in most of the larger open space areas in the Conejo Valley, although sightings are rare. Below is a comparison between the mountain lion and the bobcat. The bobcat is commonly seen in open space areas in Thousand Oaks.


Mountain Lion


SIZE: Length 42 to 90 in.
Weight 65 to 200 lbs.

SIZE: Length 25 to 30 in.
Weight 15 to 35 lbs.

COLOR: Solid, tawny--grayish; cub is spotted.

COLOR: Spotted, reddish, tan, or gray

TAIL: Long with black tip (30 to 36 in.)

TAIL: Short (5 in.) with black tip

EARS: Round, black tips, no tufts

EARS: Pointed, black tips, ear tufts


Mountain lions are mainly nocturnal, preferring to hunt at night. Deer are their favorite prey. They have also been known to prey on beaver, porcupines, rabbits, skunks, domestic livestock, pets, and other small mammals, birds, and even fish. Larger animals are usually killed by a bite to the back of the neck. Lions usually remove the viscera and eat the heart, liver, and lungs first. Uneaten portions of prey items are often cached (covered with vegetation, dirt, snow, or other debris). These food sources are generally fed upon until consumed or they spoil. Lions generally move the carcass and re-cover it after each feeding.

Male lions roam widely, females less widely, especially when the cubs are small. Adult male home ranges often encompass more than 100 square miles. Adult males use their hind feet to scrape duff into a small pile to declare their territory. These "scrapes" or "scratches" are often 6 to 18 inches long and 6 to 12 inches wide.

Dens can be found in any concealed, sheltered spot. Females generally occupy ranges from 20 to 60 square miles. Females breed first at two or three years of age, then every 18 to 20 months thereafter. Young may be born at any time of the year. Gestation period is 88 to 97 days. Litters range from one to six, generally two or three. Juvenile markings (spots) generally disappear by fifteen months.

What Should You Do If You Encounter a Mountain Lion?

Generally, mountain lions are calm, quiet and elusive. Should you happen to encounter a mountain lion, however, the following suggestions are recommended by the California Department of Fish and Game in their pamphlet "Living with California Mountain Lions":

For more information, contact the California Department of Fish and Game at 1416 Ninth Street, Sacramento, CA, 95814; phone: (916) 653-7203.