Burmese pythons are considered one of the most dangerous animals in the Everglades, rivaling even the American alligator.
Florida panthers also inhabit the Everglades. Of course, being large wild cats, they pose some degree of danger to some other animals. But considering how dangerous Burmese pythons are, it is only normal to wonder what will happen when these two carnivorous species come across each other.
Will the panthers eat the pythons? Will the pythons eat the panthers? Let us find out.
Do Florida panthers eat pythons?
Florida panthers are carnivorous animals. So it is not out of place for them to eat pythons. However, size and hunting experience might play a part in determining their success at hunting a python. So far, it appears that it is more likely for a Florida panther to eat a juvenile python than it is for it to eat an adult python.
There are no definitive conclusions on this topic yet. So, in this post, we examine the facts and try to arrive at a logical conclusion.
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Do Florida Panthers Eat Pythons?
Florida panthers are carnivores. So there is always the possibility of them eating other animals. But with animals like pythons, things may be a little different.
Studies have confirmed that, in the Everglades, Burmese pythons are apex predators. Going by the definition of an apex predator, Burmese pythons are atop the food chain in the Everglades.
Plus, they are expected to have no natural predators. They are rivaled only by American alligators, which sometimes kill them.
Now, there are cases of large American alligators taking down Florida panthers and even bears. Then again, there are cases of Florida pythons eating small American alligators.
So, the possibility of Florida panthers’ predation of Burmese pythons may be dependent on size. But of course, nothing definitive.
We assessed footage of an encounter between a Florida panther and a python. In the said footage, the panther makes a few attempts to attack the python.
Of course, the python reacts, although not violently. Then, in the end, the panther retreats when the python started approaching it.
The encounter in the footage may point to the inexperience of Florida panthers in hunting pythons. The panther appeared unsure. Perhaps, if it were more confident, it would have killed the python with a good strike or bite to the head.
We believe the panther in the video would have been more confident in hunting a smaller python. Especially since it is not uncommon for smaller and younger animals to be more vulnerable to attacks.
All in all, Florida panthers might be able to hunt and eat pythons. But they will have more luck hunting smaller pythons than larger ones. Perhaps with increased encounters between both animals, there would be verifiable cases of Florida panthers eating pythons.
What Do Florida Panthers Eat?
As emphasized a few times already, Florida panthers are carnivores. So, they feed primarily on animal flesh. Florida panthers are opportunistic predators. So, their diet is not very restricted.
The main prey of Florida panthers is the white-tailed deer. But other small animals like wild hogs, birds, armadillos, rabbits, and raccoons also fall prey to them.
The diet of a Florida panther is not limited to only the smaller animals. Florida panthers feed on larger prey, including small American alligators and feral pigs.
Do Pythons Eat Florida Panthers?
There are no definitive indications that pythons eat Florida panthers. But in the Burmese python’s native region, Southeast Asia, they eat leopards.
Considering leopards are fairly similar to panthers, there is a very decent possibility that these pythons eat or can eat Florida panthers.
Besides, in the Everglades, pythons have decimated many mammal populations, including foxes and bobcats. Plus, if you consider that pythons would eat any animal they can, the chances are pretty high.
Most indicators point to the probability that pythons eat Florida panthers. So, if pieces of evidence eventually show this happening, it would not be surprising.
Aside from possibly eating Florida panthers, there is another way these pythons may be killing these wild cats.
The increasing population of pythons in the Everglades has significantly reduced the prey population. One of the consequences of this declining prey population is increased Florida panther mortality.
This prey-predator balance is actually vital with Florida panthers since they are an endangered breed. As far back as the year 1900, there were only 500 of them. Sixty-seven years later, this population had fallen by 96%-98%.
In the 2010s, the population rose to over 200 individuals. But currently, it stands at around 120 to 130.
In a few words, even if pythons are not eating Florida panthers, they may end up pushing this breed to extinction. Their predatory activities on the prey population in the range they share with Florida panthers may drive this foretold elimination.
It is not impossible for Florida panthers to eat pythons. But if a Florida panther would succeed in hunting a python, it is more likely to find luck hunting small pythons.