Mating and Reproduction

2 panther kittens in denFemale panthers reach sexual maturity at about one and a half to two and a half years old, and males at about three years old.

Panthers are polygamous, meaning they may mate with more than one partner. Males will try to prevent other males from mating with females within their ranges but they are not always successful. Mating pairs may remain together for up to a week, sleeping and hunting together.

Panthers, like all other cats with the possible exception of lions, are induced ovulators. This means the stimulus of copulation triggers the release of the egg by the ovary. Induced ovulation is an adaptation for solitary cats to increase the probability that the egg will be fertilized. Watch this short video to see how panthers communicate and find mates.External Website

A female panther will signify her sexual availability by the scent of her urine and through vocalizations like yowling that some people say sounds like a female human screaming.

The gestation period for panther kittens is 92 to 96 days, and litters consist of one to four kittens. Births can occur at any time of year but are most common between March and July.

 

Month of Denning by Florida PanthersBar graph showing number of dens by month (see caption)

Female panthers give birth to kittens most commonly between March and July.

 

Before giving birth, the female panther chooses a den site, usually in a palmetto thicket. Panthers don’t go to any effort to prepare a den. However, an opening is created in the dense vegetation by the mother resting and nursing kittens for several days in the same location. Kittens weigh just over a pound at birth. Their eyes are closed, and they have grayish-brown fur with dark spots.

Females will not breed again until their kittens are a year and a half to two years old and able to survive on their own. If they lose their kittens for any reason, they will again become sexually receptive and ready to mate.



FWC Facts:
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