One way panthers communicate with each other is by making scrapes. Scrapes are piles of soil, leaves or pine needles marked on top with urine or occasionally scat. Panthers make a scrape by pushing their hind feet backwards, heaping up a pile of debris and leaving two parallel strips on the ground approximately four to eight inches long. Occasionally you can see individual grooves left by the toes and, on certain surfaces, a track at the base of the debris pile might be visible.

 Panther scrape in oak leaves

Panther scrape in pine needles with toe grooves

Scrapes tend to last a relatively long time and can serve as messages to other panthers via both sight and smell. Males scrape to mark their territories and advertise their presence as a way to avoid conflicts with each other. This system of mutual avoidance allows males to overlap their territories while avoiding each other. Females scrape when in estrous to advertise their receptivity to breeding.

Panther scrape in pine needles viewed from ground level

Bobcats also make scrapes but they can be differentiated from panther scrapes by the smaller width of their feet. To visualize the difference, imagine the individual foot of a panther scrape being made using all four fingers of your hand whereas the scrape of a bobcat appears as if only two fingers were used. The size of the pile of debris is not a good indicator as to which species made the scrape

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