Your Florida Backyard NSiS Home Page Your Florida Backyard Cats
Photographs on this page courtesy of SFWMD
 
 
Cats (Felidae) have 5 toes on the front feet and 4 toes on the hind feet. While there are many common names for Florida cats, there are actually only two species.
 

 
** PROTECTED **
panther The Florida Panther, Felis concolor coryi, is found primarily in southern Florida in the Everglades and Big Cypress Swamp. It is a large, slender cat with a tawny coat and white belly. Black marks the sides of the muzzle and top of the tail. It has a broad head with small, rounded ears. Length varies from 74-86", and weight ranges from 70-160 pounds. Males are larger than females.
 
The Florida panther remains solitary except when mating and during the period the female raises her young. Known litters have included 1-4 kittens. They remain with the mother for 12-18 months, leaving the nest to accompany her while hunting when they're about 2 months old.
 
The panther prefers true wilderness habitats, actively avoiding humans. It is usually inactive during the day except in winter. It needs a large area for hunting, as it usually moves 15-20 miles per day. It feeds primarily on wild hogs and white-tailed deer, but will eat smaller mammals. It will occasionally kill livestock; however, there has never been a panther attack on a human.
 
pantherIn 1958, the Florida panther was declared an endangered species. Today there are only 30-50 left. Humans and dogs are their only predators. From 1978 to 1988, there were 20 known panther deaths. Of these, 11 were the result of vehicle collisions and 5 were shootings. In Collier County fences have been placed along Interstate 75 with tunnels every few miles. Panthers are using the tunnels.
 
The panther, by a vote of school children, became the state mammal in 1982.
 
It is also called the puma, cougar, catamount and mountain lion.
 
For more info, check with the Florida Panther Society and Florida Panther Net.
 

 
The Bobcat, Lynx rufus, is found in non-aquatic habitats throughout the state. It is tawny to olive brown with black spots and streaks and a white black-spotted belly. Its tail is short, 4-6", with a white tip. It has a broad head and tufted, pointed ears. The claws are razor-sharp. It reaches a length of 30-43".
 
It is a solitary, mostly nocturnal animal. Home ranges cover 10-25 square miles. Males are territorial, females are not. Bobcats often rest in trees and palmetto thickets. Diet consists primarily of rodents and rabbits, but may include other small mammals, game birds and songbirds, snakes, lizards, and domestic cats.
 
Most breeding occurs during the winter. Litters of 1-6 kittens are born about 62 days later. Kittens remain with the mother through the first winter.
 
Bobcats, even kittens, are extremely dangerous when cornered.
 
Predators are dogs and man. Great horned owls, panthers, coyotes, and foxes may prey on kittens.
 
Bobcats can transmit rabies and feline distemper.
 

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