Puma concolor couguar
Florida panthers can leap more than 4.5 meters (15 feet) in the air.
Florida Panther Scientific Classification
- Scientific Name
- Puma concolor couguar
Florida Panther Conservation Status
Florida Panther Locations
Florida Panther Facts
- white-tail deer
- Name Of Young
- Group Behavior
- Fun Fact
- Florida panthers can leap more than 4.5 meters (15 feet) in the air.
- Estimated Population Size
- Biggest Threat
- Most Distinctive Feature
- Crooked tail
- Other Name(s)
- Florida mountain lion, Florida cougar, Florida puma
- Gestation Period
- 92-96 days
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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.
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.
History and Evolution
While this big cat historically roamed throughout the lower American states, its population dwindled drastically due to several reasons, including the destruction of its habitat. The remaining majority could be found in souther Florida.
Because of limited gene pools, heart defects, and sperm quality, there have been concerted efforts to bring back the Florida Panther’s numbers, including a plan in the late 20th Century to breed them with Texas Pumas.
The future of the Florida Panther is looking fairly bright with signs of them recovering, albeit in very small geographical regions. The next difficulty will be getting the animals to expand their reach and maintain quality genetics.
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, it has a clump of hair on its back that stands straight up like a cowlick.
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 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.
There are less than 150 Florida panthers left in the wild. Male Florida panthers have been spotted throughout Florida and even in 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 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 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.
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.
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.View all 91 animals that start with F
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.
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- Friends of the Florida Panther Refuge, Available here: https://www.floridapanther.org/panther-facts
- Nature Works, Available here: https://nhpbs.org/natureworks/floridapanther.htm
- National Park Service, Available here: https://www.nps.gov/bicy/planyourvisit/upload/Florida-Panther_FINAL_LORES-2.pdf
- US Fish & Wildlife Service, Available here: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/florida_panther/wah/panther.html
- Florida Wildlife Viewing, Available here: https://www.floridawildlifeviewing.com/florida_animals_wildlife/PantherTraits.htm
- Everglades Holiday Park, Available here: https://www.evergladesholidaypark.com/everglades-animals/florida-panther/
- 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/
- The National Wildlife Federation, Available here: https://www.nwf.org/Educational-Resources/Wildlife-Guide/Mammals/Florida-Panther