Florida Panther

Puma concolor couguar

Last updated: June 12, 2021
Verified by: AZ Animals Staff

Florida panthers can leap more than 4.5 meters (15 feet) in the air.



Florida Panther Scientific Classification

Kingdom
Animalia
Phylum
Chordata
Class
Mammalia
Order
Carnivora
Family
Felidae
Genus
Puma
Scientific Name
Puma concolor couguar

Florida Panther Conservation Status

Florida Panther Locations

Florida Panther Locations

Florida Panther Facts

Prey
white-tail deer
Name Of Young
kittens
Group Behavior
  • Solitary
Fun Fact
Florida panthers can leap more than 4.5 meters (15 feet) in the air.
Estimated Population Size
125
Biggest Threat
Man
Most Distinctive Feature
Crooked tail
Other Name(s)
Florida mountain lion, Florida cougar, Florida puma
Gestation Period
92-96 days
Litter Size
1-3
Habitat
Forests, wetlands, and grasslands
Predators
Man
Diet
Carnivore
Type
Mammals
Common Name
Florida panther
Number Of Species
1
Location
Southeast U.S.
Group
Solitary

Florida Panther Physical Characteristics

Colour
  • White
  • Tan
Skin Type
Hair
Top Speed
25 mph
Weight
45kg-73kg (100lbs-160lbs)
Height
0.6m- 0.7m(24in-28in)
Length
1.8m – 2.3m (6ft-7.5ft)
Age of Sexual Maturity
18 –36 months
Age of Weaning
3-4 months

Florida Panther Images

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The Florida panther is the only member of the puma family known to breed in the Eastern United States.

Only about 150 of these animals are left in the wild, and officials warn that there needs to be at least 240 for them not to go extinct. The tan Florida panther has a white mask, stomach, and chest. They give birth litters of one-to-three kittens in the spring who stay with their mothers for up to six months. Forest defragmentation is a massive problem for this cat as males often roam over a 500-square-mile territory while females often roam over a 75-square-mile territory.

5 Incredible Florida Panther Facts!

  • The Florida panther is a very endangered animal. Conservationists worry that if the population of about 150 animals does not increase to about 240, this animal will become extinct shortly.
  • Florida panthers are near the top of the food chain in Florida, so they have an average lifespan of about 20 years. Females usually give birth to one to three kittens starting in their second year of life and continuing through their lifespan.
  • Florida panthers give birth to one-to-three babies called kittens.
  • Florida panthers eat about 40 deer or their equivalent annually.
  • Florida panthers have a lifespan of about 20 years in the wild.

Florida Panther Scientific Name

The scientific name of the Florida panther is Puma concolor coryi. They are a subspecies of the family that also contains pumas, mountain lions, and cougars. They are the only known breeding pumas in the Eastern United States.

Florida Panther Appearance

Male Florida panthers measure about 7-feet long from the tip of their tail to the tip of their nose. They stand about 28 inches high. Females measure about 6 feet long and stand about 24 inches tall. Males can weigh up to 160 pounds while females generally weigh between 60 and 100 pounds.

By comparison, this member of the puma family is shorter than the cougar. Male cougars are about 1 foot longer while female cougars are about 7-inches shorter. Additionally, both male and female cougars weigh considerably more than the Florida panther.

Florida panthers are a tawny color that is darker across their back and gets lighter down the sides. They have a white muzzle, chest, and stomach. If you are looking at a Florida panther, then it has a clump of hair on its back that stands straight up, like a human cowlick.


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The cooked tail of the Florida Panther can be up to 33% of its body length. It also has razor-sharp claws that it uses to catch and tear up prey.

Florida panther kittens do not look much like their parents for the first 6 months of their lives. They are gray with dark brown or black spots. Kittens who are younger than 6 months old have five black rings around their tails. They turn a more tannish color as the black spots fade. Usually, by 6 months, it is hard to see the spots and rings.

The endangered Florida Panther going up a hill.
The endangered Florida Panther going up a hill.

Florida Panther Behavior

The Florida panther lives a solitary life throughout its lifespan. They hunt at night and can travel up to 20 miles in a single night. Males can cover up to 500 miles in a single month, fighting each other for territory. Females cover a smaller area.

While females make great efforts to remove their scent from an area, males leave scrapes in their territory. These scrapes consist of piles of leaves, pine needles, and soil that the male has urinated on to leave his scent. These scrapes are often about the size of a softball. They may be near a tree that looks like it’s shredded because the male Florida panther has used it as a scratching post.

Both males and females are stealthy hunters, but they make many different sounds. Kittens communicate with their mothers by chirping. Florida panthers also whistle, moan, peep and growl. Their scream is deafening. Males scream to warn other males that an area is part of their territory. Meanwhile, females scream to let males know that they have begun their heat cycle.

Florida Panther Habitat

There are less than 150 Florida panthers left in the wild. Male Florida panthers have been spotted throughout Florida and even into Southern Georgia. Females, however, have only been spotted recently in the Everglades.

Females often make dens in dense saw palmetto. Both males and females stalk prey in sawgrass prairies and forage through wet cypress strands. You may also see them sunning in hardwood hammocks.

Most live in state land that has been set aside as wildlife management areas. This area is called the Panther Corridor. The first area set aside in 2017 is the Cypress Creek Grove, located on the northern bank of the Caloosahatchee River. The state hopes to get the area directly north of Cypress Creek Grove to extend the management area in the near future.

Florida Panther Diet

Florida panthers have a huge appetite. They need the equivalent of 40 white-tail deer annually. They often kill animals bigger than themselves to meet the requirements of their diet. Then, they cover the meat that they do not eat with dirt to come back to it later. This process is similar to how squirrels bury nuts or dogs bury bones.

Florida panthers eat a variety of foods. White-tail deer are the favorite cuisine of Florida panthers. If they cannot get enough deer to meet their dietary requirements, they will dine on wild hogs, raccoons, rabbits, armadillos, and birds.

While the panther can run up to 35 miles per hour, they prefer to wait patiently for their prey to come by. Then, they pounce on them. A panther can jump up to 15 feet in the air to land on top of its prey. Once they have captured it, they use their strong claws to tear the animal apart so that they can dine on it.

Florida Panther Predators and Threats

The facts are that the Florida panther may go extinct. Man has built developments in many of the areas where the Florida panther used to live. The Florida panthers’ habitat has become so fragmented that it is tough for them to breed.

Florida Panther Population

Biologists are hoping that it is not too late to save the Florida panther. There are less than 200 of these animals left in the world. Many groups are banning together to buy land where the panthers can live. Many acres that they need remain under private ownership. Therefore, the success may be limited because of fragmentation.

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Florida Panther FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) 

Are Florida Panthers Dangerous?

The Florida panther is so endangered that you are likely to never see one in the wild. The Florida Wildlife Conservation Commission says that no Florida panther has ever attacked a human. At the same time, they are wild animals, so do not try to trap one. Then, their behavior would become unpredictable, and they might choose to hurt you.

How many Florida panthers are left in Florida?

There are less than 150 Florida Panthers in Florida, which is the only place that this endangered animal lives. Most of them live in the Everglades or Cypress Creek Grove. This endangered animal has made a slight comeback since the 1970s when state officials thought there were less than 20 Florida panthers left in the world. Yet, biologists believe that there must be at least 240 cats, or this animal may go extinct.

Sources
  1. Friends of the Florida Panther Refuge, Available here: https://www.floridapanther.org/panther-facts
  2. Nature Works, Available here: https://nhpbs.org/natureworks/floridapanther.htm
  3. National Park Service, Available here: https://www.nps.gov/bicy/planyourvisit/upload/Florida-Panther_FINAL_LORES-2.pdf
  4. US Fish & Wildlife Service, Available here: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/florida_panther/wah/panther.html
  5. Florida Wildlife Viewing, Available here: https://www.floridawildlifeviewing.com/florida_animals_wildlife/PantherTraits.htm
  6. Everglades Holiday Park, Available here: https://www.evergladesholidaypark.com/everglades-animals/florida-panther/
  7. The Nature Conservancy, Available here: https://www.nature.org/en-us/about-us/where-we-work/united-states/florida/stories-in-florida/save-the-florida-panther/
  8. The National Wildlife Federation, Available here: https://www.nwf.org/Educational-Resources/Wildlife-Guide/Mammals/Florida-Panther

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