The Florida panther is a beautiful subtropical subspecies of the North American cougar. Unfortunately the Florida panther is one of the most endangered animals in the world. The Florida panther was one of the first species to be added to the U. S. Endangered Species List in 1973. Most Florida panthers remain alive in captivity; there are less than one hundred panthers in the wild. The few that are still in the wild are found in a few places in southern Florida. Places like the Everglades National Park and the Big Cypress National Preserve. The Florida panther is a member of the Felidae family and its genus is puma.
The species for a Florida panther is concolor coryi. This cat is a large cat with distinctive markings. It is a tan colored cat with black markings that cover the end of the tail, the back of the ears, and around their nose. The male panther is larger than the female panther and they range typically from six to seven feet long. The Florida panther is a carnivore and is a very skilled hunter. Their typical diet includes animals such as deer, raccoons, feral hogs, birds, and many other medium sized animals. They have been known in some places to enter farm land and kill livestock also.
The natural habitat for a Florida panther is warm and being in southern Florida their habitats range from swampy wetlands to upland forests. The Florida panther used to range most of the Southeastern United States, from Louisiana and Kentucky down thru the southern states and to the southern tip of Florida. The typical lifespan of a Florida panther used to be approximately twelve years in the wild. Unfortunately, with such a small amount left in the wild the Florida panther is becoming more susceptible to diseases, genetic disorders due to inbreeding, and death due to car accidents.
Communication between Florida panthers includes purring, hissing, growling, snarling, and yowls. Some believe that all large cats roar but this is not the case, panthers do not roar at all. They are very territorial and solitary animals. To define their territory and to signal other animals they use pheromones and physical signs like clawing and scratching and feces. The only time Florida panthers are not alone is when they are mating or if a female is raising cubs. The female panther has a much smaller roaming territory than a male. The male can create a territory of over two hundred square miles in size.
Mating season is from November to March and during this time the male panther ventures out to find a female. After mating the female is pregnant for approximately three months. The female will give birth to one to three kittens but not all of them will survive to reach adulthood. When the kittens are born they are covered in dark spots that mask and hide them in the forest debris. The kittens are blind at birth and are very vulnerable to predators. The mother cares for the kittens for approximately one year while the kittens grow and develop.
As the kittens develop they begin to look more like adult panthers and lose their spots. When the kittens have developed and matured they leave their mother to form their own territories. There are many different species that interact with the Florida panther. Florida panthers can have interactions with wolves, bears, cougars, and other carnivorous animals. When one animal catches and kills their prey the smell of the blood draws the other animals closer. This can cause fights and even sometimes death between the hungry fighting animals.
Florida panthers also have interactions with all sorts of different species that are not carnivorous. The prey that the Florida panther hunts generally is not carnivorous, they usually hunt small animals and animals like deer. Many species also help to keep the habitat of the Florida panther healthy. As the other species live and die within the habitat it helps keep the habitat healthy for the Florida panther to live in. There are many things that threaten the Florida panther.
These threats include: 1. Human to wildlife confrontations-more and more roads are being built thru the panther’s natural habitat. When the panthers cross the roads they are sometimes struck and killed by vehicles. 2. Habitat loss due to construction. Humans are growing more and more in population size and as they grow they are expanding their habitats. As their habitats are expanding the habitats for Florida Panthers and other animals are being destroyed. 3. Low genetic diversity-with such a low population in the wild, panthers have fewer choices for mates which increases the amount of inbreeding. Each time a panther mates with a family member the genetic makeup is lowered causing a lot of birth defects.
4. Pollution is becoming more of a problem. Toxins such as mercury are killing and affecting the habitats of Florida panthers. 5. Disease- feline leukemia 6. Fear- introducing the Florida panther to new areas is prevented because the dangers of the Florida panther are misunderstood. Some people feel that the Florida Panther is dangerous and nothing but a killer. There are many efforts in existence to try to preserve and increase the population of the Florida panther. There are agencies dedicated to the Florida panther, there are donation funds that go to preserving their habitat.
There is some breed in captivity and more efforts to breed in captivity with hopes to introduce them into the wild when they are ready. To help save the Florida panther from extinction there needs to be constant effort from people. More habitats need to be located and protected to be able to move the Florida panthers to. Scientists are exploring ways to increase the cross-breeding opportunities of Florida panthers and subspecies that are closely related. People can help try to save the Florida panther in many ways. One way to help save the Florida panther population is to not kill them. Florida panthers were once hunted for their coats.
Many people found the color of the coat very desirable and the desire to own panther fur was numerous. Florida panthers were also hunted for meat and for killing livestock. Other ways to help the efforts to save the Florida panthers include; donating to conservation companies like The Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge for instance, working or volunteering for these conservation companies can also be a great help. If the Florida panther dies and goes extinct it could have a great impact on many things. The Florida panther helps to keep the populations of many different animals down.
The Florida panther is a natural hunter and it helps keep the populations of the prey species down so that they do not get over abundant. If the populations of the prey species grow to outrageous numbers then the impact could affect human life as well. The Florida panther is a vital part of the U. S. It has been shown that the Florida panther helps to keep the population numbers down for other species. This helps to keep the animal population under control so that the human population has as little effect as possible. The Florida panther is a beautiful, peaceful animal that just wants a chance at life too.