Black panthers or Panthera onca are large predators that hunt during the night. These animals have strong jaws and powerful instincts. Unlike what most people think, Panthers are not a distinct species. They are indeed jaguars or leopards with melanism, which is a genetic mutation.
There’s so much to know about these animals, and most people are interested in their diet. They can eat any animal that moves. However, they have a couple of preferred preys, and we’ll discuss them below. Today, we’ll show you what Panthers eat and some interesting facts. We’ll clarify some misconceptions about these creatures.
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Black Panthers Facts
Panthers are nocturnal animals that can be six to seven feet long from their nose to the end of their tail. Their fur is often black or brown. When they are born, they have blue eyes, which turn into yellow or emerald as they age.
According to the Florida Panther Organization, males can weigh up to 150 pounds, and female panthers can weigh between 70-75. As we mentioned earlier, they can either be jaguars or leopards with the black Panthera genus and a rare condition called melanism, which affects their eyes and fur.
However, there are also rare subspecies that are believed to come from the cougar in Southeast USA. It is called the Florida Panther. Some differences from regular panthers are that their fur is lighter and cowlicked-like, and they have kinked tails.
Where do they live?
They often live in dense tropical forests, swamps, and grasslands in multiple areas worldwide, including Southeast Asia, the United States, Canada, Central, and South America, Africa, etc. Jamie Gordon, the Regional Manager for Brazil and Amazon, says these jaguars can also live in the Amazon rainforests.
Panthers are imponent animals that will hunt their prey cautiously. They usually rest during daylight and hunt at night time. They are solitary animals and highly territorial, especially male panthers. They will become very aggressive if they detect another male landing on their territory.
Panthers are also highly skilled climbers that can jump up to 40 feet. When it comes to their relationships with other panthers, they’re considered polygamous animals. This means they will mate with any female close to their territory and prevent other males from getting closer to them. This usually ends in deathly fights between males.
How Long Does A Panther Live?
It depends on where the panter is living. In wildlife, a panther can live from 12 to 15 years. However, they can live a lot longer in captivity. They have an average life expectancy of 20 years when living in captivity.
Are Panthers in Danger?
Yes, unfortunately, panthers are in danger of extinction due to human intervention in their habitats, hunting, and low genetic diversity. There’s a very small population of panthers worldwide nowadays.
What Do Black Panthers Eat?
Panthers have a wide variety of prey in their diet. As we mentioned earlier, they are strong predators, so they can eat almost any moving animal. They have powerful jaws and teeth that they use to scare their prey. These animals are carnivores, so they only eat flesh from other herbivorous animals.
Below are some of the most common animals they eat but keep in mind this is just a small list considering they are such apex predators. According to Western North America Naturalist research, panthers eat 85 different species.
- Wild dogs
- Wild hogs
What Do Baby Black Panthers Eat?
Baby panthers are called cubs, and they drink milk from their mother when they are babies. This means that they are mammals. As they grow older, they start eating other small animals like lizards and rabbits. They start feeding themselves with medium-sized animals when they reach sexual maturity and have the size and strength necessary for hunting them.
How Do Panthers Hunt?
Black leopards and jaguars are highly intelligent predators, hiding in trees or shelter areas and evaluating their prey. This stalking process can take hours, where panthers follow their prey silently. Considering they have a slow and calculating hunting process, they prefer to hunt at night. This way, they avoid being detected by their prey and camouflage themselves with the environment due to their fur color.
They only kill them once they have a good opportunity, and the pray is unsafe. This is more efficient than wasting energy chasing them. However, their evaluation process can be long.
Panthers can freeze to avoid being perceived by their prey. They will move silently, and unlike other predators like wolves, they only run short distances. According to the Nature Conservancy organization, panthers run 35 miles per hour. Other feline species, such as lions, are faster than panthers.
Do Panthers Have Any Predators?
Panthers are some of the largest felines in America, whether they are jaguars or leopards. This makes it really hard for other animals to hunt them, considering they are also highly intelligent. They usually dominate their environment in America. However, there are also hyenas and lions in Asia, which makes them potential prey for these species.
Yet, if we’re going to talk about the largest predator for panthers, we cannot forget about humans. Due to their beautiful fur, panthers have been hunted by humans for clothing and entertainment. Yet, this isn’t the only way we have impacted the worldwide panther population. Deforestation has drastically ruined their habitat.
Common Panther Misconceptions
There are a lot of misconceptions we have about panthers, starting with the fact that they are not a distinct species. However, we’ve talked about that previously, so we’ll focus on other misconceptions such as:
- Panthers are entirely black. Panthers have dots just like most jaguars and leopards, but they’re almost invisible because of the darkness of their fur.
- Panthers live in packs. Unlike what most people think, panthers do not live in prides. If you ever see multiple panthers together, it can be their mom and its kittens. This can even be more confusing, considering they can be almost the same size. This is because panthers are bred by their mothers until they are 1.5 to two years old.
- Panthers’ habitats are trees. These predators are known for their capacity to jump into trees, and that’s why many people believe it is their natural habit. However, this is just a defense mechanism.
Can A Black Panther Be A Pet?
Recently, there was a viral case of a panther pet in Siberia. This animal was living in a zoo and was abandoned by its mother, so it had very few chances of survival, so a caregiver at the zoo decided to take it home and help it recover. The caregiver became attached to the panther, called Luna, and it now lives with her at her home.
This rare case has encouraged other people to believe they can have a panther pet. However, there are a lot of things to consider. Panthers are wild animals that can’t be domesticated. This case is so different because Luna’s caregiver is an expert in large cat raising.
In most countries, it is illegal to have a wild cat at home, including the United States. However, according to BigCatRescue.Org, ten states do not ban or have any relevant laws that regulate big cats possession.
What To Do If You Encounter A Panther?
Since the early 90s, there have been over 300 incidents with big cats, so fear is totally understandable. Panthers are extremely powerful creatures that can easily kill you if they have the opportunity. That’s why an encounter with a Panther is so scary.
Panthers usually live in the deep forest, so it is highly unlikely to encounter one. However, this can happen if you live near a forest or when you’re hiking. Although we can’t predict how the situation will be, there are a couple of tips you can consider:
- Don’t run immediately because this will activate the panther’s chasing instincts.
- Make yourself appear bigger, and don’t bend. Panthers will usually avoid confrontation, and this will make the panther think you’re the predator and they’re in danger. If you have kids, pick them up. If they’re on the ground, the panther will perceive them as small-sized prey.
- Give it some space. This way, they won’t feel tempted to attack immediately, and they can run away.
- If you are attacked, don’t stand still. Most panther victims have fought back and successfully scaped. You can use rocks, your hands, sticks, or anything close to you that can help you.
Black jaguars and leopards are beautiful and powerful species that usually dominate their environment. These nocturnal animals eat a wide variety of herbivorous prey such as rabbits, frogs, fish, wild dogs, etc. However, considering they have such a big appetite, they will eat pretty much any moving animal. Did you know black panthers weren’t actually a distinct species? Let us know in the comments below.