Difference Between Panther And Puma


The term “panther” is often used to refer to large, melanistic (black) individuals of big cat species, particularly the leopard and the jaguar. Black panthers of both species have excess black pigments, but their typical rosettes are also present. They have been documented mostly in tropical forests, with black leopards in Africa and Asia, and black jaguars in South America.

Black leopards are most commonly found in parts of Africa and some regions of Asia. What distinguishes these black leopards is their black coat, which conceals their rosette-shaped markings. In low light conditions or from a distance, these markings may still be faintly visible. Black leopards inhabit dense forests, grasslands and savannas.

Black jaguars, also referred to as black panthers in the Americas are primarily found in Central and South America. Like black leopards, black jaguars possess a dark black coat with rosette patterns that can be seen under specific lighting conditions. In general, Jaguars have a more extensive geographical range than leopards, they not only inhabit rainforests but also swamps, grasslands and other ecosystems. These large, solitary predators with ability to swim and are capable of hunting aquatic prey, such as caimans, crocodiles and fish.

Melanistic leopards and jaguars are uncommon, with some studies estimating that at most 11 percent of these animals have this coloration. Confirmed sightings, however, are less frequent, and confirmed sightings of black leopards, especially in Africa, are rare events. Before the most recent verified observation of a black leopard took place in Kenya in 2019, it had been 110 years since it had been photographed (and thus confirmed) in Africa.


The puma, scientifically known as Puma concolor, is a large and enigmatic big cat also known as the mountain lion, cougar, or catamount, depending on the region. This highly adaptable and solitary predator is native to the Americas, with a range extending from North America through Central America to the southernmost regions of South America.

Physically, the puma possesses a tan or grayish-brown coat, which lacks the rosette patterns seen in some other big cats like leopards and jaguars. The specific name concolor (“of one colour”) refers to the puma’s fur, which is uniformly brown on the back, sides, limbs, and tail. Puma have a sleek, well-muscled body, long legs, and a relatively small head with powerful jaws. Their most distinctive features is a long tail with a black tip, which sets them apart from other large cats in the Americas.

Pumas are the fourth-largest big cats globally, after tigers, lions, and jaguars. Their size can vary based on their geographic location and the availability of prey, but on average, they weigh between 29 to 72 kilograms (64 to 160 pounds) and can measure up to 2.7 meters (9 feet) from nose to tail. These large dimensions and physical prowess make them formidable predators.

Pumas are primarily solitary animals and have extensive home ranges, with males covering larger territories than females. Communication among pumas is through vocalizations, including whistles, screams and purring sounds. Mating can occur year-round but often peaks during late winter or early spring.

Their diet can include prey, such as deer, elk, smaller mammals, and occasionally livestock. Pumas are skilled stalk-and-ambush predators, relying on stealth and their powerful jaws to subdue prey.

In terms of conservation, pumas are considered a species of “Least Concern” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), which indicates that their populations are relatively stable.

Panther vs Puma: Key Differences

CharacteristicPanther (Melanistic Leopard or Jaguar)Puma (Mountain Lion or Cougar)
Scientific NamePanthera pardus or Panthera onca, depending on speciesPuma concolor
Geographic RangeFound primarily in Africa and parts of AsiaNative to the Americas, from North to South America
ColorationBlack coat with dark rosette patternsTan or grayish-brown, no spots
Spots or MarkingsMay have faint rosette-shaped markingsGenerally no spots or markings
TailLong and slender with no black tipLong and slender with a black tip
Body SizeLarger, typically 45-90 kg (100-200 lbs)Smaller, typically 29-72 kg (64-160 lbs)
VocalizationsRoaring, growling, and chuffingWhistles, screams, purrs
HabitatDiverse, including forests, savannas, and grasslandsWide range, from mountains to deserts
Prey PreferencesHunt a variety of animals, including large mammalsPrimarily deer and smaller mammals
Range of DistributionDepends on species, but often fragmentedNorth, Central, and South America
Conservation StatusVarious species, some endangeredGenerally stable or least concern
Social BehaviorSolitary and territorialSolitary and territorial
Reproductive HabitsMating can occur year-roundMating primarily in late winter/early spring
Claw UsageMore reliance on claws for huntingRelies more on jaw strength for killing prey
Can Climb TreesLeopards can climb trees proficientlyPumas are not as proficient climbers
Range of SoundsLeopards and jaguars produce a wider range of vocalizationsPumas have a more limited vocal range