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by Fred Piscop www.macnamarasband.com

Facts about the Florida panther

The panther is the official state mammal of Florida.

Panthers need large areas to live in. Males need an average of 200 square miles, females need 70-75 square miles.

Florida panthers are large, long-tailed, tawny-colored cats. Males average about 7 feet in tength, including the tail, and 119 lbs. in weight. Female panthers are smaller, with an average length of 6 1/4 feet and an average weight of 82 lbs. The largest known panther was a 154-pound male captured in Hendry County in 1989.

A long time ago panthers could be found all over the eastern United States. However, they were overhunted because people thought these shy cats were dangerous. Now only 30 to 50 panthers can be found in south Florida.

The Florida panther exists now primarily in national and state parks and nearby private lands in southwest Florida

Panther kittens can be born at any time during the year, but most are born during the late spring. When the kittens are born, the mother gently holds them with her paw and licks them dry. Afterwards, the kittens nuzzle up to their mother and drink her warm milk.

A typical panther den site is located in a saw palmetto thicket taller than 6 feet. These palmettos create a canopy that shelters the kittens from rain and exposure to the sun.

Dens can be considerably cooler than outside air temperatures. The den is nothing more than a patch of bare ground beneath the stems and among the roots of palmettos.

Mother panthers care for their kittens alone for about 1 to 1 1/2 years.


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