Life Cycle

    A black panther is a melanistic  variant of several species of cats within the panthera group.  Melanism is hereditary, but it is not necessarily passed directly from one generation to the next.  A black panther can have black or fair-colored spotted leopards as parents and is usually born along with other fair-colored spotted leopard cubs.

Female leopards usually give birth to their first litter at about two-and-a-half years old.  Mating can take place at any time of the year.  The leopard is solitary.  Adult male leopards live alone for most of their adult lives.  A male leopard stays together with a female leopard for only a few days during the mating period.  A female leopard bears and raises cubs alone.  The gestation period is about 90 to 105 days. 

Black panther cubs are born with their eyes closed.  They are covered with faintly spotted smoky gray fur.  The selection of the site for birth den appears to be crucial to the safety of newborn cubs, especially when their mother goes away to hunt for food.  They develop tree climbing skills at a very early age to avoid enemies.

The black panther cubs can follow the mother to the hunting fields and start to learn hunting skills two to three months after birth.  They can catch medium-size prey after seven to nine months old.  Fewer than half of black panther cubs still survive at the age of one.  Those who do survive become increasingly independent.  By the age of two, almost all young black panthers become fully independent and have established their own home ranges.  They can live about 12 years in the wild and 20 years in captivity. 

Seven week old Black Panther cubs. 

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