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26 Amazing Facts about Panthers You Might Not Know

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Only big cats (Panthera) can roar, and you may be wondering what makes panthers so special. After all, why is it that panthers can roar, but other animals can’t?

It turns out that big cats have a ligament in their voice box that replaces the epihyal bone. This ligament, a tough cartilage, can be extended. When stretched, the panther has a larger pitch range thanks to a larger passage through which it produces sound.

The panther’s larynx is more flexible as a result, and this allows the big cat to roar like the fierce predator it is.

The panther has strength, speed, power, courage, and attitude. These agile animals are among the most powerful, active, and deadliest in the big cats family. They are also known as the black leopard, jaguar, and panther. But there are other facts about panthers that many do not know.

While the phrase black panther may draw a loud “Wakanda Forever!” from you (for Marvel fans out there), little is known about the actual species. These sneaky animals are rarely seen by humans like their lion counterparts, resulting in an air of mystery that surrounds them. Perhaps it’s time for that to change.

Whether you’re interested in fun facts about panthers or just passing the time, these black panther animal facts will surely delight and inform you.

Read more: Check out these interesting facts about animals next.

facts about panthers

26 Interesting Facts About Panthers

Without further ado, here are 26 facts to learn all about panthers.

1. Panthers Belong to the Same Family As Cats, Leopards, and Lions

Some may consider this one of the most known interesting facts about black panthers, but it’s still worth mentioning. Leopards and lions belong to the Pantherinae family — just like panthers.

The Pantherinae family is a subfamily under the much larger Felidae family that consists of feline predators. The five big cat species — jaguars, leopards, lions, snow leopards, and tigers — fall within the genus Panthera.

The scientific names for these bad boys of the jungle are as follows. Jaguars are Panthera onca, and leopards are Panthera pardus. Lions, the king of the jungle, have the scientific name Panthera leo, whereas snow leopards and tigers are Panthera uncia and Panthera tigris, respectively.

Read more: Discover more facts about cats now.

2. Sometimes Panthers Are Called “Jaguars”

While people often reference (black) jaguars when thinking of (black) panthers, there are different types of panthers that aren’t jaguars. You’ve got leopards, Florida panthers, and pumas, to name a few.

This may sound confusing, but it’s because panthers are actually not a separate species. Depending on geographical area, what others term (black) panthers are usually leopards or jaguars. If we were to get technical, panther is defined as black versions of animals within the Panthera genus.

This melanistic color refers to leopards, lions, etc., with black or dark brown fur. The reason for this color variation is a recessive gene. But more on that later on.

black panther with mouth open facts about panthers

3. Panthers Can Be White

When you hear “panther,” you typically think of a black panther. But panthers can be white too.

Much like black panthers, white panthers aren’t a separate species. And their fur can be white for various reasons, whether it be leucism, albinism, or the chinchilla mutation.

While leucism causes reduced pigmentation, it differs from albinism in that it results in patches of reduced coloring. On the other hand, albinism affects melanin production in its entirety, resulting in a white pigment all over the panther’s body.

The panther’s genetics cause the chinchilla mutation, resulting in the erasure of stripes or color spots the panther may have had.

4. Other Panthers Exist Too

And they’re classified according to their colors — tawny panthers and spotted (yellow) panthers.

Tawny panthers are Florida panthers (or pumas). Florida’s state animal usually has a rusty shade of fur on its back, a pale gray color on its underside, and tawny (orange-brown) sides.

Almost true to their name are spotted panthers. These are panthers with marks on their fur that look like spots but actually aren’t. This is not to be confused with the spots that cheetahs have. The “spots” on these panthers are actually rosettes, which are shaped like a rose. Only leopards have rosettes on their fur. Plus, cheetahs aren’t a member of the Pantherinae family, so they aren’t part of the panther club. Sorry.

5. Their Environment Affects Their Lifespan

This is one of the sobering facts about black panthers. In the wild, panthers can live only 12 years, but in captivity, they can live a longer life of 20 years.

What has a severe impact on how long they live is their environment and lifestyle. Naturally, being in the wild means they encounter predators that shorten their lifespans. But when in captivity, panthers are usually kept in the right conditions. By staying in national preserves, their caretakers ensure they’re well taken care of and consume the right foods.

Male panthers also have a shorter lifespan than their female counterparts. This is likely due to male panthers facing an increased risk of death when they fight amongst themselves to demonstrate dominance.

black panther whiskers

6. Panther Sizes Vary Depending on Their Body Weight

The maximum weight panthers can achieve is 160 kg; their weight varies typically with age from 79 lb–353 lb (36 kg–160 kg), with the size also varying.

Male panthers are typically larger in size at around 30% larger than female panthers. They’re also heavier too, weighing between 130 lb–160 lb (59 kg–73 kg). Some weigh even more than that. In contrast, female panthers weigh 70 lb–100 lb on average.

7. Young, Healthy Panthers Are Fast

A healthy and young panther can sprint up to 51 miles per hour (82 kilometers per hour). That said, this is not prolonged and is usually for a few hundred yards at a time.

Read more: Keen on knowing the fastest land animal in the world? Check out these interesting cheetah facts next.

8. Panthers Are One of the Strongest and Best Climbers in the Big Cats Family

These ferocious animals make good use of their strength and agility to climb trees and remain undetected by prey. If a poor raccoon thinks climbing up a tree will keep them safe, they’re sadly mistaken. Panthers don’t just climb trees; they often jump from one tree to the next to get their next meal.

Black panther on paw

9. The Black Panther Is Known As the “Ghost of the Forest”

This nickname shares one of the fascinating facts about the black panther: it’s a stealth attacker, as prey don’t see them until it’s too late.

Their black fur gives them the ultimate camouflage, allowing them to dart away from predators and sneak up on unsuspecting prey. It’s all thanks to melanism, a rare condition that causes melanin in the skin to overdevelop. So what causes melanism in panthers? It’s been reported that recessive mutations in the ASIP gene and dominant mutations in the MC1R gene are the cause.

10. Panther facts show that White panthers are known to be one of the rarest animals breed in the world, there are only a few hundred white panthers in the world.

10. White Panthers Are One of the Rarest Animal Breeds in the World

One of the most astonishing panther facts is that there are only a few hundred white panthers in the world.

Think of it this way: if black panthers are so rare, imagine just how rare white panthers are. With a 2019 photo of a black panther being the first taken in 100 years and another in 2023, these guys sure are elusive.

That said, it’s difficult to accurately estimate how many white panthers there are in the world. This is because panthers aren’t a species, and they’re elusive, too. So efforts to track and keep count of their population prove difficult.

black panther in the snow

11. Panthers Love Swimming

And they often swim to relax. Unlike cats, their domesticated counterparts, panthers are quite fond of water. Seeing that panthers typically stay in habitats like jungles and rainforests with large bodies of water, this comes as no surprise.

However, jaguars and leopards have different preferences when it comes to water. Jaguars (Panthera onca) come from wetter environments than leopards, so they love swimming in flooded forests.

Leopards (Panthera pardus) are slightly different. While they do swim and spend time in the water, they aren’t fans of doing so as much as jaguars are.

12. A Panther Can Lift Heavy Weights

These strong creatures can lift an animal that’s a whopping 1,350 lb (612 kg) heavier than them.

Panthers are so strong they can even drag the lifeless bodies of their prey while climbing trees. This allows them to feed safely and conveniently, away from predators like lions and hyenas. You may find it strange that despite being apex predators, panthers actually do have predators.

Lions, hyenas, and, sadly, humans typically prey on panthers.

13. The Yellow Panther Can Have Non-Yellow Cubs

While yellow panthers aren’t a new species—much like panthers themselves aren’t—they can have black and yellow cubs.

Some panthers can be tawny or spotted (and yellow). These yellow panthers are actually leopards. And leopards can give birth to both yellow and black cubs. As you’ve read earlier, a black panther cub gets its all-black fur from a condition called melanism that causes it to overdevelop melanin.

14. The Florida Panther Is Not a Pure Breed

You’ll usually find the Florida panther in Florida’s wetlands (hence the name Florida panther). And while they are Florida’s state animal and are an endangered species according to the Endangered Species Act, most of them in the Everglades have been found not to be endangered at all.

To add more controversy to the mix, some researchers say that many Florida panthers are not pure breeds at all. Some of these hybrids are said to be close relatives of the South American puma.

The result? The so-called hybrids are not protected under the Endangered Species Act.

black panther in profile

15. Lorenz Oken Was the First Person to Describe the Panther

Lorenz Oken was a German naturalist who studied natural history. In 1816, when he was around 37 years old, his pursuits led him to describe panthers as the “Panthera.”

A bit of backtracking is needed here. When scientists classify animals, they do so into seven major animal groups (i.e., kingdoms, phylum or division, class, order, family, genus, and species). But the focus here will be on the last three; family, genus, and species.

When looking at the Felidae family as a whole, Lorenz Oken placed panthers under the genus Panthera. Thereafter, Reginald Pocock coined the term “Pantherinae” in 1917 to include the big cats of the genus Panthera, as well as snow leopards.

16. Baby Panthers Have Their Eyes Closed

When born, adorable panther cubs still have their eyes closed. This renders them completely defenseless and dependent on their mama panthers. Gray fur covers their eyes for 10 to 14 days, leaving them to rely on their sense of smell to find their mothers. After two weeks, these baby panthers can then rely on their vision too.

17. Panther Cubs Stick Close to Their Mothers

Speaking of mommy panthers, their offspring are quite reliant on them. And these panther cubs don’t leave their mothers until they are eighteen months or two years old.

Before this time, they rely on their mothers for protection and survival. Sadly, male panthers aren’t involved in raising or looking after panther cubs. So when the female panther goes out to hunt for herself and her offspring, panther cubs are vulnerable to attacks from predators.

black panther in black and white

18. Panthers Can Easily Hunt Down Their Prey at Night

During the day, they spend their time sleeping in trees. But come nighttime, these stealthy hunters are ready to hunt for prey.

Thanks to their dark fur, these nocturnal animals rule the night and are able to remain undetected by prey. Their black fur gives the perfect camouflage, and their exceptional eyesight allows them to spot prey in the distance. This, plus their excellent sense of smell, allows them to find prey easily.

19. Panthers Are Solitary Creatures

Unlike lions or wolves, panthers aren’t one to mingle with their peers. On the rare occasion you spot a panther, you’ll find them living, hunting, or traveling alone.

But there is an exception (or two). One of the more interesting facts about the panther is that they only meet fellow panthers during the mating season. Female panthers exhibit certain behaviors to draw a mate. They’ll leave scent markings and make sawing sounds.

Scent markings are picked up by the male panther, and he’ll follow it to find her. The male panther also hears the sawing sounds, which lets him know her location.

20. Well-Known Black Panther Facts: Panthers Are Carnivores

One of the well-known panther facts is that they’re carnivores. These are animals that mainly eat other animals. Their diet mainly consists of herbivores that are small or medium in size. Panthers hunt wild hogs, raccoons, deer, rabbits, tapir, and birds.

21. Black Panthers Are Beautiful but Rare

Panthers can be found in Asia, the US, Africa (black leopards), and South America (black jaguars), and Australian jungles.

That said, these creatures are extremely rare. Their rarity is not just due to their solitary and stealthy nature but also other reasons. Genetics play a role, but their habits and environment have also been devastated by human acts such as deforestation. The clearing of trees for industrial development has led to panthers having fewer areas to live in.

Another threat to panthers’ existence is hunting by humans. Some people hunt panthers for their fur, and others sadly hunt them for the thrill of it. This activity has led to a decline in their numbers.

black panther facts

22. Panthers Can Leap Up to 20 Feet Horizontally and 10 Feet Vertically

Their leaping capabilities make it oh-so-easy for panthers to snatch up prey. Being the agile animals they are, their ability to jump high and far makes them a force of nature to be reckoned with.

Smaller animals stand no chance with these apex predators. A warthog or deer would need more than fast reflexes to escape the panther’s 20 feet horizontal leap. And with a vertical leap of 10 feet, a bird flying close to the ground for worms as fast food is in no luck either.

Picture this to have a better idea: 10 feet is the size of a 2×4 board, and 20 feet is just above the height of three 6 feet adult males stacked on top of one another. These heights, combined with a panther’s speed and agility, make them dangerous to keep as pets.

23. You Can’t Keep Them as Pets

Speaking of which: one of the fun facts about black panthers is that there are people who keep them as pets. But this isn’t advisable. Experts have said that these wild cats can’t be domesticated and can be dangerous, even to owners who’ve raised them as cubs.

Speaking of danger, panthers are known as Class I wildlife. This is a list of animals that threaten human safety and cannot be kept as a pet as a result.

In addition to the dangers of owning a panther, there are ethical concerns surrounding this matter. Given that panthers are extremely rare, owning them as a pet further exacerbates their rarity. In the wild, poachers kill panther mothers so they can catch the cubs. Once the mom is dead, the panther cub is vulnerable, and it is easier for the poacher to grab it.

While panther cubs are adorable, keeping them as pets contributes to the poaching problem.

black panther baby in snow

24. Panthers Are Taught By Their Mothers How to Hunt From Three Months of Age

Just before the cubs are taught how to hunt for prey, panther cubs eat meat scraps their mother has caught. Once panther cubs hit three months of age, they are ready to exert a bit of autonomy. At this age, they begin to hunt with their mothers.

After they’ve got the basics down and have learned how to hunt, young panthers can even start hunting medium-sized prey at 9 months of age.

But what do they eat before then? Like other mammals, panther cubs are fed a nutritious diet of milk from their mothers before they are weaned off.

25. The Lion and Tiger Are the Largest Panthers

“Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the larget panther of them all?” Of the jaguar, leopard, lion, snow leopard, and tiger, it turns out this is tied between the lion and tiger. The king of the jungle, the lion, grows up to 10 feet long. The same is true for tigers.

In contrast, you’ll find that the leopard can grow up to 6.5 feet long. And the snow leopard grows up to 7 feet long. Lastly, the jaguar, which is typically found in the Americas, can grow to be 9 feet long.

26. Panthers Can Roar Like Lions

Only big cats (Panthera) can roar, and you may be wondering what makes panthers so special.  After all, why is it that panthers can roar, but other animals can’t?

It turns out that big cats have a ligament in their voice box that replaces the epihyal bone. This ligament, a tough cartilage, can be extended. When stretched, the panther has a larger pitch range thanks to a larger passage through which it produces sound.

The panther’s larynx is more flexible as a result, and this allows the big cat to roar like the fierce predator it is.

black panther facts


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