The black panther is a commonly used name for a black specimen of a varied number of species. Typically the term panther. Usually in North America the term panther, will refer to the cougar or mountain lion.
In Central America, this term will usually mean a Jaguar, and in other parts of the world it is used to refer to the leopard. In the Jaguar, this color mutation is caused by a dominant gene, while in the leopard it is because of a recessive gene.
If looked at closely, you can still see faint spotted markings that are typical of the normally colored cats, they are just covered over by the excess of black pigment in the fur. White panthers do exist also, but are extremely rare.
Panthers with this condition have no problem living with siblings that are normally pigmented, actually since these cats hunt almost exclusively at night, this particular pigmentation is probably a great help.
The habits of these cats are exactly like those of the normal colored specimens. The most common form of black panther is the leopard and they have been used for years as animal exhibits and bred for exotic pets.
Such inbreeding has led to an all effect in the temperament of these animals, sometimes making them so aggressive that they must be destroyed. This is a sad reminder that with the care of anything comes a great responsibility.
Black leopards are said to inhabit the most densely forested areas of China, Assam, Nepal, and Myanmar, and in parts of the Malay peninsula they may number more than the spotted leopard.
In the U.S. Black cougars have been reported in Kentucky, and also reports of glossy black cougars have come in from Kansas and Eastern Nebraska. No accounts have ever been truly documented however, so many believe that this is a case of mistaken identity.
A few black bobcats have been documented in Florida, in 1941, pictures were published of two cats caught in Martin county around 1939 and 1940.
These were described as black but upon examination they appear to be more of a dark chocolate brown, though this seems to be splitting hairs. The facial stripes of most of the melanistic animals can be seen quite clearly and they tend to have a lighter underbelly.
With the larger cats this may be helpful, because when hunting from trees, if the prey looks up the undercoating would blend in somewhat with any rays of sun.
Find out more about the Black Panther over at Wikipedia »