Florida Panther Description & Behavior
The Florida Panther
Naturally Blends In
The Florida panther is naturally camouflaged. Tawny-colored along the back, and lighter on the lower chest, belly and inner legs, it closely mimics the white-tailed deer, its primary prey. The Florida panther has several distinctive characteristics not found on western cougars: a cowlick in the middle of the back, and a crook at the end of the tail, features which may be the result of inbreeding because of the low population. The Florida panther also is lighter in weight, darker in color, with smaller feet and longer legs than other cougar subspecies.
Males and females look alike, except males tend to be bigger and to have a larger head. Males weigh between 100 and 150 pounds and measure up to 7 feet from the tip of the tail to the nose.
Females range from 65 to 100 pounds and measure about 6 feet.Although panthers are quite stealthy when hunting, they are notorious for making a surprising variety of noises.
They have been known to chirp, whistle, moan, peep and growl; kittens, in fact, chirp to communicate with their mother.Some people claim that a panther sometimes makes a cry that will stand a person's hair on end.
Territory and Diet
Panthers mark their territories with scrapes which consist of, a small pile of soil, pine needles and leaves about six inches long. Male panthers use feces, urine, or a scent from the anal glands may also be deposited on the scrape.
Females, on the other hand, generally avoid leaving any scent. They will often cover their feces, especially if they have young, since males have been known to kill and eat kittens as large as 50 pounds.
A large carnivore like the panther requires extensive hunting space. Studies have shown that adult males do stake out a territory and may range over 400 and 500 square miles within a single month.
A panther's diet may include rabbits, raccoons, wild hogs, birds, armadillos and, when food is scarce, even grasshoppers. Adult panthers annually require between 35 to 50 animals with the food value of a deer. (Ten raccoons, for instance, are said to equal the food value of a single deer.)
Able to sprint up to 35 miles an hour over short distances, a panther usually attacks its prey from ambush. It brings down a deer with a bite that severes the spinal cord at the spot where the neck and head join.
A panther may take several days to consume its kill. Between feedings, the cat covers the carcass with leaves and dirt.
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