Have you heard of Florida panthers? If so, you might think that they don’t exist, but they do! Once common throughout the southeastern United States, fewer than 100 Florida panthers (Puma concolor coryi) are estimated to live in the wilds of south Florida today. Want to know more? Below are some facts about the Florida panther.
Like most animals, Florida panthers need food, water, shelter, and access to mates to survive. Panthers are strictly carnivores and eat only meat. The primary diet of the Florida panther is made of feral hogs and white-tailed deer. However, they’ll also hunt; rabbits, raccoons, birds, armadillo and other types of animals that roam the swamps and prairies of Southern Florida.
To maintain their health and fitness, adult panthers need to consume the equivalent of about 1 deer or hog per week. Females with kittens may need twice this amount.
In 1995 when the genetic restoration program began, the population of panthers had dwindled to only 20-30 individuals in the wild. In 1995, eight female Texas panthers were released in south Florida. Five of the eight Texas panthers produced litters and at least 20 kittens were born. By 2007, the Florida panther population had responded by tripling to about 100 animals. Now there are an estimated 100 to 180 adults/subadults found in southern Florida, which is the only breeding population known.
HABITAT AND RANGE
Historically, panthers ranged across United States’ southeastern region which includes Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and Mississippi along with parts of South Carolina and Tennessee. But now South Florida’s breeding population of the panthers is only found on Florida’s southern tip. Most recently, the young males have gone north into the central and the northeast parts of Florida. There was even one that was found in west-central Georgia close to the border of Alabama. The females don’t roam as much and there haven’t been any documented outside of the southern part of Florida for decades.
Even though Florida panthers are big, they’re closely related to housecats and lynx rather than the bigger cats such as tigers and lions.
They’re usually quiet, but they’ll communicate through sounds such as peeps, whistles, chirps, moans, growls, hisses and screams. A female will signal their mating readiness through caterwauling or yowling.
Panthers use a lot of different types of habitats, such as swamps, prairies and forests. They’re territorial and solitary animals and they travel many miles in their home’s range. They’re mostly active from the hours of dusk to dawn and they rest during the day. Males’ home range is around 200 sq miles and the females’ home range is around 75.
It’s rare for all of the kittens to survive. They’re born with some dark spots and they soon fade as they grow. The kittens will stay with the mother for as long as two years. The panthers mate during the year and the peak season is winter and spring. The gestation period is 90 days and a litter can have anywhere from 1 to 4 kittens in it.
These are some facts that you may not know about Florida panthers. These beautiful and incredible creatures are found in southern Florida and are truly fascinating creatures.
Planning a Trip to Florida?
After seeing Florida’s alligators, return to the beauty and comfort of a home from Naples Florida Vacation Homes. We have a wide selection of homes located all over the Naples area. Whether you’re hoping to squeeze in a few rounds of golf during your visit or you’d like to relax by a private pool, you’ll find the perfect home to fit your needs.
Check out our rentals and book today! We look forward to having you.