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What Is A Panther?
This is a great question! Panthers can be any of the 5 different species of the Panthera genus within the family Felidae. Those species are:
- tiger (P. tigris),
- lion (P. leo),
- jaguar (P. onca),
- leopard (P. pardus),
- snow leopard (P. uncia).
But, panthers can also refer to the melanistic color variant of any Panthera, but especially of the leopard (Panthera pardus) in Asia and Africa, and the jaguar (Panthera onca) in the Americas.
Black panthers of both species have excess black pigments, but they still have their typical spotted markings as well.
Then there’s also the Florida panther, which is a North American cougar (Puma concolor couguar).
For the sake of this article, I’m going to refer to panthers as black panthers as it is my opinion that when people are searching about panthers they really think of black panthers.
Felidae is a family of mammals in the order Carnivora, colloquially referred to as cats. A member of this family is also called a felid. The term “cat” refers both to felids in general and specifically to the domestic cat.
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How Fast Is A Panther?
Now that we’ve established which cats we are referring to when we mention a panther, let’s see how fast they are.
Because panthers are merely black versions of leopards and jaguars, we simply have to establish what their speed is. Leopard’s top speed is 36 mph or 58 km/h and the jaguar’s top speed is 64 mph or 103 km/h.
Wow, that is FAST! Black panthers are then the second fastest cats only trailing behind cheetahs and their top speed of 80 mph or 128 km/h. That is not bad especially because panthers do not rely mainly on their speed to hunt prey.
Panthers’ main advantages are their superior sense of hearing and vision. And of course their power. Jaguars especially can pierce the shells of armored reptiles and turtles with their second-to-none bite force!
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Where Do Black Panthers Live?
Black panthers can be found in North and South America in the form of jaguars and in sub-Saharan Africa, in small parts of Western and Central Asia, on the Indian subcontinent to Southeast and East Asia in the form of leopards.
Jaguars can be specifically found from the southwestern United States and Mexico in North America, across much of Central America, and south to Paraguay and northern Argentina in South America.
Leopards have the largest distribution of all wild cats, occurring widely in Africa as well as the Caucasus and Asia, where they inhabit foremost savanna and rainforest, and areas where grasslands, woodlands, and riverine forests remain largely undisturbed.
Are Panthers Always Black?
Panthers can be black but also white and in the case of cougars (Puma concolor), that are also often called panthers, plain colored.
Melanism is the darkening of body tissues caused by excessive production of melanin, especially as a form of color variation in animals.
Are Panthers A Separate Species?
Black panthers are not a separate species. They are black variants of mostly jaguars and leopards. The black color in the leopard is caused by a recessive allele, and in the jaguar by a dominant allele.
Are Panthers Black Leopards?
Panthers are basically just that – black-coated leopards. Melanism in leopards (Panthera pardus) is caused by a recessive allele and the typical spotted markings they usually have are still present but hidden due to the excess black pigments, which is why they’re called “ghost rosettes”.
Based on records from camera traps, black leopards occur foremost in tropical and subtropical moist forests.
Are Panthers Black Jaguars?
That’s right. Panthers are simply black-coated jaguars as well as black leopards. Melanism in jaguars (Panthera onca) is caused by deletions in the melanocortin 1 receptor gene and conferred by a dominant allele. They also have ghost rosettes on their fur.
Are Panthers Pumas?
The cougar (Puma concolor) is often referred to as panther, but also mountain lion, puma, painter and catamount. They are the second-largest cats in the New World after jaguars.
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Is There A White Panther?
White panthers exist as well, although they are extremely rare. A white panther is a white cougar, a white jaguar or a white leopard which is the most common (but rare). White panthers may be the result of albinism, leucism or the chinchilla mutation.