Panther Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Dina Albert
You have probably seen a cat on the street, in a shelter, or even have one as a pet. In this lesson you will learn about a type of cat that lives in the wild and would make a dangerous pet. These cats are called Panthers.

Types of Panthers

You might think a panther is just one type of big cat, but this is actually a pretty complicated term! In this lesson, we'll review three major definitions of what we can mean when we say 'panther.'

First, the term panther can mean any large cat. When it comes to large cats, the ones you probably see at the zoo are lions and tigers, but there are also jaguars, and leopards. All together, these beautiful cats fall under the category of panther. The category of 'panther' comes from the genus 'panthera' which describes any large cats. 'Genus' is a way we categorize multiple species into a single group.

Something else we might mean when we say panther is the 'black panther.' Now, you might think that a black panther is actually its own species, but this isn't the case! A black panther can be any type of big cat that is melanistic. When we say melanistic, we mean that an animal's fur or skin is black. While 'black panther' can technically mean any melanistic big cat, we almost always mean black jaguars or leopards when we use this term.

A black panther

A third thing we can mean when we say 'panther' is a mountain lion. A mountain lion can be called a cougar, a puma, or simply a panther. Unlike leopards and jaguars, mountain lions don't have to be melanistic to be called panthers. In fact, a mountain lion isn't even part of the genus panther, but we still call it a panther! Confusing, right?

Baby mountain lions

So now we know that when we say panther, we can mean: 1) any large cat of the genus 'panthera,' 2) a melanistic leopard or jaguar, 3) a mountain lion.

Physical Traits of Panthers

You might be able to run very fast, or know someone who can sprint quickly, but leopards can definitely outrun you easily because they run at 36 miles per hour (regular road speed for a car). They are also heavier weighing about 198 pounds, and generally live about 17 years. But if this isn't fast and big enough for you, then you would probably love the Jaguar. Jaguars weigh up to 348 pounds and can reach a speed of 64 miles per hour (regular expressway speed for a car).

Spotted Leopard

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