What comes to your mind when you hear the word ‘Black panther’? Chadwick Boseman, who played the character in Marvel Film? Or pink panther’s distant goth cousin? Well, we are talking about none of the above but the cool family member of the cat family; the black panther animal.
What Do Black Panthers Look Like?
The majestic-looking animals called black panthers belong to the Kingdom of Anamalia. Black panthers look just like big giant cats and aren’t separate species. They are In fact variations Panthera genus; leopards & jaguars.
Its black fur color is a result of the pigment melanin; a result of genetic mutation, and is also called black leopard and black jaguar.
If you’re interested to take a deeper dive into the black panther’s world; this article will give you a comprehensive guide and will tell you everything you need to know about these large cats.
Classification and Evolution
Living things discovered to this date, are divided into five different kingdoms. The Kingdom Animalia is the largest, to which we humans also belong. Even black panthers aren’t safe from the shackles of class division. Although it’s not based on money, unequal distribution of power does exist.
Scientific classification is divided into 7 major groups; Kingdom, phylum, class, order, family, genus, and species. Each class is divided into several sub-classes. This picture below is going to ring some bells if you paid attention to biology class in high school.
But, today, we are talking about black panthers, so let’s stick to them.
Black Panther is a widely used term, often used to regard several variations of the Felidae family with black fur coats. However, the black panther is not a distinct species of big cat, but rather a color variant of the spotted leopards and the jaguars.
Various feline species, like the dark fur Black Leopards located in Asia & Africa, Black Jaguars of the big cat family from central and South America, and North American black puma, all fall under the big cats family umbrella.
The scientific name of Blank panthers is Panthera pardus & Panthera onca. Black panthers are declining in numbers, they are referred to as endangered species.
Anatomy and Appearance
- Black panther appearance-wise is surely sleek-looking. The most striking feature of this mammal is its eyes. The sharp eye shape and the bright emerald green eyes sort of give black panthers a fierce look; making them look elegant. Even when they are standing in the dark, their striking eyes stand out, looking like a silhouette.
- Panthers tend to be black and dark brown. Like the other feline members i.e Leopards and Jaguars, black panthers can also have a spotted body. However, due to their flashy dark fur, the spots aren’t clearly visible to the eyes.
- Their black soft fur comes from a genetic mutation, resulting in a pigment called melanin. The parent of a black Leopard cub is likely to be melanistic as well.
- Speaking of the length of their body, from head to tail, it falls between 43 inches to 75 inches. It might vary a little with sex and habitat. The head of black panther is slightly smaller compared to their overall body.
- They have a strong jaw, and their hind legs are larger and longer than the front legs, allowing them to run faster and jump higher.
- A panther’s tail can grow to a maximum length of 43 inches. The animal’s total height at the shoulders can range from 18 to 31 inches. In Black Panthers, as in the majority of species, the male is typically around 30% larger than all the females.
Black Panther is like your oversized black cat but with better hunting skills and a stronger jaw. So, of course, you can’t have them as your pets.
Behavior and Lifestyle
Black Jaguar prefers to spend their time in solitude. Up in the tree contemplating life or keeping a keen eye on the animal, which is soon to be its food. This feline member is seldom seen wandering in the wild. One of the reasons might be the amalgamation of their fur with shadows during daylight and darkness during the night.
Like Harry Potter, they have their invisible cloak but in the form of their fur. Melanistic Leopard is quite an intelligent, reserved, and introverted animal. They lead a nocturnal lifestyle; charging their battery all day and working at night.
Black panthers aren’t just sleek-looking animals with smart brains. They are also exceptionally fearless hunters, solitary animals, and quite territorial in temperament. Their territorial nature makes them aggressive toward their male counterparts, leading to intraspecific aggression.
Reproduction and Life Cycles
Melanistic Jaguar is polygamous; they might mate with more than one male panther. Male panthers try inducing monogamy by being aggressive towards other males, but all in vain. Interestingly, the panthers also have a dating phase. The mating pairs stay together, going hunting and sleeping together for about a week.
This refers to the phase of development that occurs in mammals during the bearing of an embryo and eventually a fetus. The gestation period for female panthers is roughly three months. It might cause a litter of 2-4 cubs to be born on average.
Black panther cubs are born blind, making them extremely vulnerable at birth. For the first 5-9 days or sometimes two weeks, they are unable to open their eyes. Because the mother panther must go hunting, the cubs are susceptible to dangers. The moment they are able, they tag along.
At the age of three, the cubs are believed to be fully mature. The mother panther considers the pub mature enough to lead an independent life.
On average, a melanistic leopard lives up to 12 to 20 years. Female panthers have a great chance of living up to 10 years than males. Male panthers, if manage to combat the dangers till their first 5 to 8 years of age, can then easily live more than 10 years.
They are widely scattered over three continents. Black panthers mostly live in the steamy, dense tropical rainforests of South and Southeast Asia. They mainly inhabit Southwest China, Southern India, Indonesia, Burma, Nepal, and Southern Malaysia.
They have also been reported to arrive in Ethiopia, the mountains of Mount Kenya, and the Aberdares, but not in abundant strength. The subspecies of mountain lion or cougar, Florida panther, resides in eastern America.
Reportedly, black pumas with slightly lighter bellies have been seen in Kentucky. Moreover, glossy black pumas have been spotted in eastern Nebraska and Kansas, referred to as the North American black panther.
Their scattering throughout various regions has a lot to do with their ability to adapt quickly. They are commonly found in forests, swampland, and grasslands. That is why the Malay peninsula, covered with swampy forests, is home to the largest population of a black jaguar.
The chart below maps out the locations that tend to be their main habitats.
Diet and Prey
Now, what does the melanistic Leopard eat? They tend to eat small to large-sized herbivores (plant-eating animals). According to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, the diet of about 70% of black panthers is deer, tapir, wild hogs, and raccoons.
They often go for easy prey like cows, and buffalo, but during opportunist times, they might go for reptiles, birds, and even insects.
How Much Meat Does A Blank Panther Need To Eat In A Day?
Black panthers, like all big cat families, are carnivores, aka meat eaters. What animals they eat might vary with their habitat. They may consume 20 to 30 pounds of meat at one time, depending on the prey availability, and the threats in the surrounding dense forest.
The wild & giant black cats take larger prey like deer up climbing on the tree to keep it safe from other rival predators. Just like you hide your food from your siblings. Their athletic body build and fast hind legs add to agility and wonderful hunting skills.
Generally, melanistic leopards are late-night snackers. However, there is a reason behind this and their dark fur has to do with it. Black Panthers benefit greatly from the pigment melanin to manipulate their prey during the dead of night. It becomes their invisible cloak in the dark, assuring a higher success rate in their hunting game.
Although, some wildlife filmmakers observed something contrary to this famous belief. While studying the black panthers in Kabini Forest, Karnataka, South India, they observed a black panther named Saaya. They discovered that it typically waited until midday when the sun was at its brightest, and the shadows were the deepest.
Thus, some melanistic Jaguars and Leopards prefer to hunt under the aid of the sharpest shadow, with their eyes acting as silhouettes.
Interesting Facts and Features About Black panthers
- Black panthers are considered to be one of the most intelligent Felidae family members.
- Panther cubs are born blind, they are first able to open their eyes after 5-9 days.
- Panthers have exceptional eyesight, sense of smell, and hunting skills.
- Black panthers can run super fast (faster than you running from your problems!)
Predators, Threats & Life today
Typically, lions and hyenas are among the major carnivores that hunt black Jaguars. But how can we forget about their biggest threat—humans?
Habitat loss resulting from human exploitation greatly leads to the demise of big cat families and ranges from hunting them as a form of distinction to creating habitat degradation in the name of human development.
Deforestation always erupts the normal chain of the ecosystem. The number of black jaguars and black leopards declining inevitably contributes to the extinction of their predators.
Even though one of the major threats to the lives of black panthers is habitat loss, intraspecific aggression also plays a part. While trying to stop other males from mating, they get into a fight. The success rate in doing so is often low but might result in deadly fights.
Conservation Status and Behaviour With Humans
The conservation status of Panthera Pardus is, unfortunately, listed as endangered species. The IUCN has classified both Leopards and Jaguars as threatened species because they are both getting more and more vulnerable across a large portion of their natural range.
However, given that it takes two gene-carrying individuals to breed to produce a Black Panther, and that the likelihood of this happening is declining as habitat is lost, many wildlife specialists believe that these animals are endangered globally.
To sum it up, black panthers have it all. They are smart, elegant, and fast. They have this mysterious introvert aura that makes them super special. They are territorial and solitary animals. The fierce look on faces often becomes the reason to snatch the job from supermodels.
Whether your boring science class project brought you here, or you’re an animal lover enthusiastic to learn about several species. We hope this article helped you and you enjoyed it.