Longstreet Highroad Guide to the Florida Keys & Everglades
By Rick Ferren
Maybe you were driving or walking a trail near sunset, and you looked just in time to see a large cat disappearing into the bushes. Maybe it was a Florida panther (Felis concolor coryi), but chances are far greater it was a bobcat (Lynx rufus).
A very small number of Florida panthers, less than 10, spend part of their time within the boundaries of Everglades National Park. They are very reclusive and seldom spotted by even park service employees who live in the park.
An almost identical subspecies of the western cougar, adult male panthers grow up to 8 feet in length and can weigh up to 125 pounds. They have a tawny brown coat and a long tail that almost drags the ground.
Bobcats have black spots on a reddish, buff, or gray-colored coat. They seldom exceed 30 inches in length or weigh more that 35 pounds. They have short, triangular-shaped ears and a very short tail and are occasionally seen dashing across a road or trail.
As one park ranger put it, "If you see a Florida panther, you'll know it's a panther. There will be no doubt in your mind."