I used to think that the black panther was a type of wild cat or a different species of big cat. This is a common misconception. Now I know that the black panther is actually a name for different types of big cats that are black. Black leopards, black jaguar, and black cougars are all considered black panthers.
Black Panther Facts
Black Leopard – Panthera pardus
Black Jaguar – Panthera onca
Black Cougar – Puma concolor
Characteristics of Black Panthers
Black panthers (remember that name refers to black leopards, black jaguars, and black cougars) are smart, powerful, and aggressive. They have a long tail, sharp claws, and strong jaws.
Panthers have a black coat caused by melanin in their skin. Melanin is a fancy word for dark brown or black pigment in the skin. Under their black fur or very dark brown fur you can actually still see the black markings that leopards or jaguars usually have.
Habitat of Black Panthers
Since black panthers are black jaguars, black cougars, and black leopards they can actually be found in a variety of habitats.
Black Jaguars can be found in South America and Mexico. They love the tropical climate like the wet lowlands of Latin America. The Amazon rainforest is home to many. They can be found in grasslands too.
Black Leopards live in Africa, Central Asia, Mount Kenya, southern India, China, and Sri Lanka. They prefer regions of dense forest, grasslands, mountains, and even deserts.
Black Cougars are actually mountain lions. You can find them in South America and in the western part of North America. They will usually live in a forest with dense vegetation, but also like swamps and mountains. People in the United States report seeing the black cougar, but it hasn’t officially been confirmed in a long time. Reports have been made about seeing black panthers in Western Australia too.
Black panthers are clever and fierce hunters who use their color, speed, and climbing skills to help them.
Black panthers are carnivorous animals that hunts at night. Hunting at night and sleeping in the day is called nocturnal. Black panthers are strong and fast so they are considered ferocious predators. Their color helps them blend in at night for a long time and not be seen. Their sneaky ways have given them the nickname, “ghost of the forest”.
Black panthers can run at speeds averaging 50 mph (as fast as a car). That speed helps catch prey such as deer, wild boar, feral hogs, and even antelope. They also eat small animals like rabbits, birds, and fish.
Known for their strong climbing skills and sharp claws, black panthers enjoy climbing trees. These large carnivores can quietly watch for prey from their spot on a branch. Black panthers have strong eyesight that helps them hunt. After prey is caught, a black panther will use its strong jaws to bring its meal back up into the tree to eat alone.
What Hunts Black Panthers
Black panthers aren’t hunted very often. When they are it is by larger animals like lions or a group of animals like hyenas.
Humans are one of the biggest hunters of black panthers. They are the greatest threat to black panthers because of illegal poaching and also taking away their natural habitats with deforestation and developing the land. Because of this, black panthers are considered an endangered species.
Black Panther Cubs
The gestation period of a black panther is 3 months. That means they are pregnant for 3 months. Then, they give birth to an average of three cubs. Black panther cubs are born blind and don’t get their eyesight until they are about two weeks old. So it is really important for their mothers to stay with them and look after them.
Although adult panthers usually live alone, female panthers stay with their panther cubs for 2 years before the young panthers go out on their own. In that time, they teach them how to hunt and survive on their own.
- Black panthers are solitary animals (they live alone), but they do communicate with each other by making sounds, mostly to protect their territories.
- These rare animals are territorial. They want their own space and they protect it. In the natural world, they mark their space by spreading their urine around it. That sends the signal to other panthers to stay away.
- Florida panthers aren’t actually panthers. The people that live in southern Florida call these cougars panthers, but they are actually cougars or pumas.
- Black panthers can jump high into the air. They can leap about 10 feet high. Wow!
- The tip of the tail is darker on a black panther.
- Black panthers live between 12 and 15 years.
- Usually cats in the animal kingdom don’t like water. However, black jaguars love to swim. They swim, play, and relax in the water.
Black panthers are such amazing animals to learn more about. They are smart, quick, ferocious, and strong. What is your favorite new fact that you’ve learned about black panthers?