The Florida Panther


Elizabeth, Block 2

Common Name: Florida Panther

Scientific Name: Puma concolor coryi

Nickname: Not Available

external image Watchful+Eyes_+Florida+Panther_+Florida.jpg


Description:


The Florida Panther is a mammal. A specific species of big cat, often linked to the Puma and Cougar, the Florida Panther varies in color, from light brown to grayish white. The muzzle and underbelly are usually white, while its nose and other defining features are most often a dark brown. From nose to tail, the panther can be as long as seven feet. They can weight as much as 138 lbs. The cat's carnivorous diet consists of mostly white tailed deer, while it sometimes preys on smaller animals like racoons. Florida Panthers breed during an October mating season, and cubs are born about three months later. Between one and three cubs are usually born. As the Florida Panther is a mammal, it gives live birth. The kittens are born with blue eyes and spotted coats, which fade when reaching the age of about six months.

Habitat:

The Florida Panther is native to North America, and can be found in southern Florida and, reportedly, Arkansas. The range of the panther used to cover most of the south-eastern United States. They do most of their travel at night and have territories that cover up to 250 square miles. Panthers can live in wetlands or drylands, and usually navigates both. Most live areas with good cover, which helps them remain unseen while stalking their prey. Thickets, among other dry, protected areas, are often utilized as dens to give birth and care for the kittens. Florida Panthers don't migrate, live below ground, or hibernate. There are no natural predators (beyond the uncommon large alligator) to the cat, nor are there any noted interspecies relationships.

Problems:

With the settlement of the Americas, the Florida Panther population began to decline. Much of the panther's natural habitat was taken over by humans, making it more difficult for the cat to survive. Hunting them, for reasons of safety and the possibility of profit (from the fur), may have also contributed to their declining numbers. With such a small population, there is a possibility of inter-breeding, which could cause birth defects. One of the main causes of death is territorial disputes between other panthers.

Solutions:

A small habitat for the remaining Florida Panthers (only about 70 left in the wild) has been set aside; however, it is shrinking steadily with business development and population growth. It is unlikely that the population will be able to recover. There is not enough known about the Florida Panther to be able to significantly help, and people working with the habitat, according to a Los Angeles Times article, were told to favor commericial development over the preservation of the habitat.


U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Environmental Conservation Online System, Species Profile http://ecos.fws.gov/speciesProfile/profile/speciesProfile.action?spcode=A008
Nature Works, Florida Panther http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/floridapanther.htm#4
Pictures of Cats, Florida Panther http://www.pictures-of-cats.org/Florida-Panther.html