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
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
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
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
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.