Southeastern United States. The Florida panther's range is limited to small pockets in southern Florida. It originally ranged from eastern Texas through Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, and parts of Tennessee and South Carolina
Florida panthers are most often found in mixed swamp forests and hammock forests. Habitats can vary over a home range, but generally are heavily vegetated. Other common habitats are slash pine-saw palmetto woodlands and oak-pine woodlands. Their daytime habitat tends to be in dense vegetation and covered wet prairies, while at night they use more open prairies and marshes. Panthers are good swimmers and can cross canals, swamps and marshes easily. They also commonly uses human paths as travel lanes and routinely cross highways.
Weight: Males-48 to 67 kg.
Females-30 to 45 kg.
The average length of a male Florida panther is 2.13 m (7 ft.) from nose to tail. Females measure approximately 1.83 m (6 ft.) nose to tail. Puma concolor coryi has a short, stiff dark brown pelage. The mid-dorsal region is particularly rich in color, and has irregular white flecking on the head, nape, and shoulders. On the middle of the back, Florida panthers usually have a whorl of hair, or cowlick, which differs from the pattern of the rest of the hair. The limbs are long with small feet, and a right angle crook at the end of the tail. The tail crook, whorl of hair, and white flecking are not found in other subspecies of P. concolor coryi.
Florida panthers are seasonal breeders, with the season starting in October and continuing through March. The majority of conceptions occur from November to March. Males reach sexual maturity at three years of age, while females become sexually mature between two and three years old. The gestation period is 90-95 days. Litters consist of between one to three kittens. Kittens become independent after one and-a-half years. As a result, females tend to breed every other year.
Florida panthers are a solitary species. Adults are rarely seen together, except for during the breeding season. Home ranges can be rather large, and many times the ranges of different panthers overlap. Male home ranges, ranging from 200 km2 to 600 km2, tend to be larger than female home ranges, 100 km2 to 300 km2. Both species mark their territory with defecation and urination, as well as with scrapes. Scrapes are small piles, about six inches long, of dirt and debris scraped up by the panther's hind feet. The scrapes are usually urinated on, indicating the presence of the animal to others. They are made more often during breeding season, perhaps has a way to advertise readiness to breed.
Florida panthers are predatory carnivores, with white-tailed deer being the most important prey species. Other significant prey species include rabbit, raccoon, wild hog, armadillo, and birds. They forage using stalk and pounce methods common among cats. Prey is approached slowly and attacked with short, high speed bursts. Large prey like deer are killed by biting the spinal cord on the top of the neck where the neck and head join. Kills are dragged to a concealed place for the panther to feed. The forequarters of the carcass are eaten first, and the rest is buried with grass and fed upon later. Florida panthers will spend approximately three to four days at a kill site.
The Florida panther has been listed as an endangered species under the Endangered Species Act since its passage in 1973. The Florida panther is in grave danger of becoming extinct. They have an estimated population of 20-50 animals. They are relegated to small habitat pockets, and the only areas they can be predictably found are in Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve. Most panther populations were eliminated before 1900 by settlers who hunted them because they killed livestock as well as out of fear. Other historical factors leading to the panther's decline were habitat loss due to human encroachment and a subsequent reduction in prey species. Added threats today include low population numbers resulting in little genetic variability and disease and parasites. Conservation and recovery efforts are headed by the Florida Panther Record Clearinghouse, established in 1976 by the Florida Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission.
Craig Howard (author), University of Michigan-Ann Arbor, Tanya Dewey (editor), Animal Diversity Web.
living in the Nearctic biogeographic province, the northern part of the New World. This includes Greenland, the Canadian Arctic islands, and all of the North American as far south as the highlands of central Mexico.
young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.
having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.
an animal that mainly eats meat
uses smells or other chemicals to communicate
animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.
forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.
having the capacity to move from one place to another.
the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.
scrub forests develop in areas that experience dry seasons.
reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female
uses touch to communicate
Alvaraz, Ken. 1993. Twilight of the Panther: Biology, Bureaucracy, and Failure in an Endangered Species Program. Sarasota, Florida: Myakka River Publishing.
Belden, Robert C., William B. Frankenberger, Roy T. McBride, and Stephen T. Schiwikert. 1988. Panther Habitat Use in Southern Florida. Journal of Wildlife Management, 52(4):660-663.
Dalrymple, G. H., and O. L. Bass, Jr. 1996. The diet of the Florida panther in Everglades National Park, Florida. Bulletin of the Florida Museum of Natural History, 39(5):173-193.
Maehr, David S., E. Darrell Land, Jayde C. Roof, and J. Walter McCown. 1989. Early Maternal Behavior in the Florida Panther (Felis concolor coryi). American Midland Naturalist, 122:34-43.
Maehr, David S., Ellis C. Greiner, John E. Lanier, and David Murphy. 1995. Notoedric Mange in the Florida Panther. Journal of Wildlife Diseases, 31(2):251-254.
Maehr, David S. 1997. The Ecology of the Bobcat, Black Bear, and Florida Panther. Bulletin of the Florida Museum of Natural History, 40(1):1-155.
United States Fish and Wildlife Service. 1987. Florida Panther (Felis concolor coryi) Recovery Plan. Prepared by the Florida Panther Interagency Committee for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Atlanta, Georgia. 75 pp.
IUCN - The World Conservation Union, 1996. "Species Survival Commission: IUCN Cat Specialist Group: Species Accounts: Puma concolor" (On-line). Accessed July 11, 2002 at http://lynx.uio.no/catfolk/sp-accts.htm.