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15 Amazing Fun Black Panther Facts

Get your claws stuck into these fascinating furry facts!

Beano Facts Team
Last Updated:  January 9th 2024

Black panthers are AMAZING animals - so amazing, they have a superhero named after them! They can be found across three continents, live for up to 15 years, and run at speeds you can't imagine! Enjoy these fifteen fun and fascinating facts about the "ghosts of the forest"!

Need more animal facts in your life? We've got 'em! Learn all about capybaras, snow leopards and gorillas!

1. They're not quite what they seem

Black panthers are actually leopards or jaguars! They're not a separate species of animal at all - in fact...

2. They're melanistic

Melanism is when an animal produces a lot of melanin, which is the substance that gives our skin and hair its colour. It means that an animal will appear to be totally black! It happens in a lot of animals, including reptiles and birds, though it never happens in humans (unlike albinism, which is caused by a lack of pigment and can happen in animals and humans). If you've had a black cat, gerbil, guinea pig or rat, they might have had melanism!

3. They have retractable claws

Just like the superhero Black Panther, black panthers have claws that they can retract into their paws when they're not using them. This helps them grab prey and climb trees!

4. They can swim!

Black panthers are VERY good swimmers, unlike domestic cats who hate the water, jaguars and leopards use the water to their advantage. They tend to live in wet and humid environments, where being able to swim is very useful to catch prey. Jaguars also sometimes go into the water to play and relax!

5. They're "ghosts"

Black panthers are nicknamed "ghosts of the forest" because of how silent and stealthy they are at night. As nocturnal creatures, they're at their best in the dark!

6. Their eyesight is amazing!

Leopards and jaguars have reflective lenses in their eyes that allow them to basically absorb light. They can see about six or seven times better than people, so they can spot prey in the darkness.

7. They also have an amazing sense of smell

In addition to that amazing eyesight, black panthers can also smell prey and identify friends and foes in the wild! They can smell even better if they lift their top lip in a snarl - this opens up their nasal passages further!

8. They're mostly carnivores

Carnivores are animals that eat meat, and their digestive systems are usually unable to process any vegetation. Black panthers will sometimes eat plants for medicinal purposes - if they have tummy troubles, they might eat some grass or leaves so they can throw up and feel better!

9. They can climb

We already mentioned this briefly in the fact about their claws, but you wouldn't believe how good these cats are at climbing! Not only that, they will take their kill up into the tree with them - they're quite famous for dragging impalas, which can outweigh a leopard, into the tree to eat!

10. They're fast!

This one should come as no surprise, but you might not know exactly how speedy these guys can get! They reach sprint speeds of 30 to 40 miles per hour - for comparison, Usain Bolt's top speed was 27 and a half miles per hour!

11. They're not pregnant for long

Black panthers are only pregnant for about three months, which is one-third of the time humans are pregnant for. Mothers will raise the cubs for about two years, then they will set out on their own. The babies aren't always black, even if their mothers are!

12. They're loners

Black panthers tend to live, hunt and travel alone. They only really hang out with other jaguars and leopards at mating season, and when raising the cubs. Some scientists have noticed that they might share food with other jaguars and leopards, which suggests they might be friendlier than we previously thought!

13. They're territorial

Despite some evidence of friendliness, black panthers are generally VERY protective of their personal space. They mark their territory by raking trees with their claws, rubbing their heads and bodies on trees and rocks, and using urine to mark their presence. Nice! Sometimes other jaguars and leopards will challenge them for their territory, which usually results in a fight to the death. Gulp!

14. There are some disadvantages to being a black panther

Most big cats have white spots on their ears that they can use to communicate danger to their young. Black panthers don't have these spots, so it can be hard to let their cubs know when something dangerous is happening! This means that black panther cubs are in more danger in the wild.

15. They're very rare

Black panthers tend to be less fertile than other big cats, so fewer black panthers are born. Still, that means if you ever see one, you're witnessing something incredible!