Florida Panthers are spotted at birth and most often have blue eyes. As a panther grows the spots will fade and the coat will become completely tan and the eyes turn a yellow hue. A Panthers underbelly is creamy white, and it has black tips on its tails and ears. A Florida panther cannot roar, but instead makes distinct sounds that include whistles, chirps, growls, hisses, and purrs. A Florida panther is midsized for its species, being smaller than other cougars from northern and southern climates but larger than a cougar from the neo-tropics. An adult female Florida panther ways 29 to 45.5 kg or 64- 100 pounds. A larger male can weigh 45.5 to 72 kg or 100-259 pounds. The total length is from 5.9 to 7.2 ft. Male Panthers on average are 9.4% longer and 33.2% heavier than a female. This is because males grow at a faster rate than females and for longer time.
The Florida panther has always been considered a unique sub species of the cougar. It has been protected from legal hunting since 1958 and in 1967 it was listed as endangered by the US Fish and Wildlife service. The Florida panther is a large carnivore and its diet consists of small animals like hares, mice, and waterfowl. It also will eat larger animals like storks, white tailed deer, wild boar and even the American alligator. The hunting season of the panther is greatly affected by the behavior of their prey especially deer. Deer are nocturnal as are Panthers. When hunting, Panthers shift their hunting environment based on where the prey is. A female panther is dependent on nutrition due to her reproductive rates.
Panther kittens are born in dens created by their mothers usually in dense scrub. Dens are chosen due to its prey availability and a variety of other factors. Kittens spend the first 6 to 8 weeks of life in the den, dependent on their mother. In the first 2 to 3 weeks, the mother will spend most of her time nursing the kittens. After this time she will spend more time away from the den, to wean the Cubs and hunt prey to bring back to the den. As soon as the kittens are old enough to leave the den, they will hunt and part company with their mother. Kittens are usually two months old when they begin hunting with their mothers and two years old when they begin to hunt and live on their own.
The biggest threat to the Florida panther and its natural predator is the alligator. Humans also can threaten it with poaching. Human encroachment is the biggest threat to their survival besides predation. The two highest causes of mortality for an individual Florida panther are automobile collisions and territorial aggression between Panthers. When there are incidents that injure Panthers federal and Florida wildlife officials take them to White Oak Conservation in Yulee, Florida for recovery and rehabilitation. Southern Florida is a fast developing area and this threatens the population with habitat loss. In studies, most Panthers involved in car collisions are male. The conservation of Florida panther habitats is very important because they rely on the protection of the forest, swamp and pineland for their survival.
The Florida panther has long been at the center of the controversy over the science used to manage the species. The disagreement between scientists about the location and nature of critical habitat has been strong. There is a dispute between the property developers and environmental organizations. The US Fish and Wildlife Service complains that the Scientific Review Team continues to use incorrect data. There seems to be a problem with incorrect data and financial conflicts of interest.
Florida Panther Society - What Can You Do?
You can express your support for the Florida Panther by writing to political figures and agency administrators, regarding habitat preservation in order to reestablish panther populations in their historic range.
An Inside Look at the Florida Panther Habitat Preservation Plan
The habitat preservation plan is a landscape scale planning document that was prepared by the Florida Department of Environmental Protection, the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission, the National Park Service, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service.
Florida Rescued Panther Becomes The Face of Florida's Panther Population
The female panther born within Southwest Florida was given the name of FWC Kitten 434. K434 was discovered hiding out in Bougainvillea bushes close to a Naples, Florida set of tennis courts. She was deemed 12 to 14 weeks of age.