A mother pulled her five-year-old son from the jaws of a mountain lion after he was attacked by the animal.

The boy had been playing with his brother outside his home in the Colorado mountains on Friday evening when the cat pounced.

His mother is thought to have heard screams and rushed into the backyard of the family home in north-west Aspen, where she found the creature on top of her son, Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office said.

"She was able to pry the cat’s jaws open,” Deputy Michael Buglione told local media. “She’s a hero.”

The child was taken to Aspen Valley Hospital and then transferred to Children’s Hospital in Denver, but is said to be in “fair condition”.

Police officers located the lion and shot it dead, along with a second lion that was in the vicinity and had been spotted in a front garden.

Meanwhile, his mother was treated for minor injuries in Aspen Valley Hospital and then released.

Some expressed concern for the well-being of wild animals, suggesting that many attacks are a result of their habitat being destroyed.

“I feel that humans have taken over so much territory, we built our homes on animals natural habitats and destroyed their homes,” said Alejandra Hernandez on Facebook.

“Of course these animals are wandering around everywhere, they're hungry they need to survive.”

The Colorado Parks and Wildlife website offers advice on what residents should do if they encounter a mountain lion.