Florida Panther

Florida Panther

Mammalia

SCIENTIFIC CLASSIFICATION

COMMON NAME: Florida Panther
KINGDOM: Animalia
PHYLUM: Chordata
CLASS: Mammalia
ORDER: Carnivora
FAMILY: Felidae
GENUS SPECIES: Felis concolor (plain - refers to the coat color); subspecies

FAST FACTS

DESCRIPTION: Mountain lions are the largest species of cat native to North America. Their coats are typically a uniform silver-gray, tawny or reddish-brown in color although some are occasionally melanistic (black) and rarely albino. Kittens tend to have a spotted coat and blue eyes. Physically, Florida panthers differ slightly from otherFelis concolor subspecies - they are darker in color, they have longer legs with smaller feet, and are lighter in weight.
MALE Adult males tend to be larger than mature females.
SIZE:  
MALE Mature males measure more than 2 m (6.6 ft.) from the nose to the tip of the tail, and stand 60-70 cm (24-28 in.) at the shoulders.
FEMALE Adult females measure about 1.8 m (6 ft.) in length from the nose to the tip of the tail.
WEIGHT:
MALE Wild adult males weigh from 48-67 kg (106-148 lb.)
FEMALE Adult females weigh about 29-45 kg (65-100 lb.)
DIET: An adult Florida panther needs to eat about 35-50 deer-sized animals each year, although females with cubs may need twice that amount. Besides white-tailed deer, Florida panthers may eat rabbits, wild hogs, birds, armadillos, rats, carrion, and grass. There is even a documented report of the panthers eating two alligators in the Everglades National Park.
GESTATION: Gestational period 90-95 days; On average, females give birth to 1-4 kittens and care for their kittens in dens usually in areas of dense palmetto trees.
ESTRAL PERIOD Estral period 8 days, the cycle lasts 23 days. Females of this species are induced ovulators - triggered by copulation an egg is released from the ovary.
NURSING DURATION 9-12 months (wean)
SEXUAL MATURITY:
MALE 26-30 months
FEMALE 22-23 months
LIFE SPAN: 10-12 years or more
RANGE: Florida
HABITAT: Typically found in remote and fairly undisturbed areas with abundant prey and cover
POPULATION: GLOBAL Between 30-50 panthers
STATUS: IUCN Critically Endangered (for F.c.coryi andF.c.couguar)
CITES Appendix I (for F.c.coryi)
USFWS Endangered

FUN FACTS

1. The Florida panther is the only mountain lion subspecies found east of the Mississippi River. The few remaining wild individuals live in remote wilderness areas.
2. Florida panthers can leap more than 4 m (15 ft.) when pouncing on their prey. There are no documented cases of attacks on humans in Florida.
3. Although mountain lions are one of the largest species of cat found in North America, they actually have more in common with the house cat than a lion or tiger. Unlike other large cats, mountain lions lack a flexible hyoid and are unable to roar.

ECOLOGY AND CONSERVATION

With a population that numbers only between 30-50 individuals, Florida panthers have become one of most rare and endangered animals in the United States. The greatest threat to Florida panthers is habitat loss. These animals require large territories of undisturbed land with sufficient prey.

A simple road may divide panther habitat, resulting in fewer breeding opportunities. With Florida panthers being separated from potential mates, they are forced to breed within a very small stock. Inbreeding has become a disturbing new pitfall. The close proximity of the road presents deadly hazard to the panthers. From 1978 to 1988, cars on the roadways in Florida killed 11 panthers. Currently, wildlife crossing signs, fences and underpasses help reduce deaths from collisions with automobiles.

Other pressures facing Florida panthers include exposure to domestic cat and dog diseases such as parvovirus, feline leukemia, feline HIV and rabies. Because the population numbers are so low in this subspecies, these animals may have less effective immune systems resulting from inbreeding and be more prone to disease or parasite infection.

This is the official state mammal of Florida, and state law as well as the Endangered Species Act protects Florida panthers.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Nowak, Ronald M. (ed.). Walker's Mammals of the World. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1991.

Parker, S. (ed.). Grizmek's Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing Co., 1990.

www.endangered.fws.gov

Florida Panther Net: www.panther.state.fl.us

IUCN cat specialist group: http://lynx.uio.no/catfolk/puma-08.htm

http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu