Florida Panther Encounters on Everglades Airboat Tours
Florida Panther – Puma concolor coryi
The Florida panther is an endangered subspecies of cougar. The deforestation and spread of development brought on by European settlers was the original cause for the decline in the Florida panthers’ numbers. In the 1970s, there were only approximately 20 Florida panthers left in the wild. Today, their numbers have increased to an estimated 160 in wilderness. Our Everglades boat tour service notes that they are extremely beautiful animals, and should be protected.
HabitatHistorically, panthers ranged across the southeastern United States, in lands spanning across Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, Alabama, and parts of Tennessee and South Carolina. Today, panthers live in the forests and swamps of South Florida, these cats can be found in pinelands, hardwood hammocks, and mix swamp forests. Males panthers have a home range of 200 square miles on average, while females’ span less area, averaging about 75 square mile ranges. These are sometimes seen aboard an Everglades tour.
Size & AppearanceIf you manage to see some of these creatures aboard one of our Everglades National Park boat tours, their size will be most striking to you. Florida panthers are spotted at birth and typically have blue eyes. Male panthers can weigh up to 160 pounds (73 kg) while adult females weigh in at up to 100 pounds (45.5 kg.) On average, male panthers are 9.4% longer and 33.2% heavier than females because of their growth’s rapid rate and later maturity.
DietThe Florida panther is a carnivore whose diet consists of small and large animals. Their smaller prey consists of hares, mice and waterfowl while their larger game includes while storks, deer, wild boar and the occasional alligator. In their place at the top of the food chain, these mammals help keep feral hog numbers in check, and deer, raccoon and other prey populations balanced and healthy. You could even see some of these animals on select Everglades tours!
- Despite being spotted at birth, Florida panther’s spots fade as they mature.
- In 1982, the Florida panther was named the state animal of Florida.
- Panthers are nocturnal predators.
- The Florida panther is one of 32 subspecies of puma concolor.
- Despite being Florida’s state animal, it is one of the most endangered animals on Earth.
- Recently, these panthers have been spotted in North Florida and even Georgia, though female panthers have not been documented outside of South Florida in decades.
- While the Florida panther is large, it is more closely related to small cats — like lynx and housecats — than to other big cats — like lions and tigers.
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