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Predation of a Large Alligator by a Florida Panther
Roy McBride and Cougar McBride

Southeastern Naturalist, Volume 9, Issue 4 (2010): 854–856

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825040 6 NOSoRuTthHeEaAstSeTrnE RNNat uNrAaTliUstR NAoLteISsT V13o(l.1 9):,3 N9–o4. 24 Predation of a Large Alligator by a Florida Panther Roy McBride1 and Cougar McBride1 Abstract - Alligator mississippiensis (American Alligator), ranging in size from 45.7–152.4 cm, have been identified as a Puma concolor coryi (Florida Panther) prey species. On 14 March 2008, we discovered a 269.2-cm Alligator that was killed and fed upon by a male Panther; this record is the largest one reported to date. Alligator mississippiensis (Daudin) (American Alligator) has been previously confirmed as a prey species of Puma concolor coryi (Bangs) (Florida Panther), within South Florida’s Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve Notes of the Southeastern Nat u ral ist, Issue 9/4, 2010 854 1Rancher’s Supply, Inc., Livestock Protection Company, 26690 Pine Oaks Road, Ochopee, fl34141. Figure 1. Adult male Florida Panther that killed the Alligator; note the fresh blood on the Panther’s facial fur. 2010 Southeastern Naturalist Notes 855 (Beier et al. 2003). A diet study conducted from 1984–1991 within Everglades National Park, reported Alligator remains at Panther kill sites and in Panther scat (Dalrymple and Bass 1996; D. Jansen, National Park Service - Big Cypress National Preserve, Ochopee, fl, pers. comm.). Panther kill-site investigations within Big Cypress National Preserve have also documented Alligator remains (D. Jansen and J. Kellam, National Park Service - Big Cypress National Preserve, Ochopee, fl, pers. comm.). In this biological note, we document the largest Alligator killed by a Panther to date. On 14 March 2008, while conducting our annual Panther survey within western Big Cypress National Preserve, our hounds detected a cold Panther trail, which they tracked silently for approximately two miles. The scent trail led to a strip of dense vegetation where the hounds flushed the Panther out. After initially trying to escape by crossing a flooded prairie, the Panther was overtaken on a pine island by the hounds. We approached the sound of the barking hounds and observed an adult male Panther approximately 10 m up on a limb of a Pinus elliottii Engelm. (Slash Pine) (Fig. 1). At this point, our survey protocol required that we photograph the Panther, acquire a GPS location and note any distinguishing characteristics for future identification. We noticed fresh blood on its lower jaw, which led us to assume the Panther had a kill nearby. Searching the area, we discovered a blood trail and distinct drag marks in the grass leading to the area where the hounds initially found the Panther. At the terminus of the drag mark, we found the carcass of a freshly killed Alligator. The Panther had fed on the ventral upper-thoracic cavity, exposing the tracheal region (Fig. 2). Although a cursory necropsy was conducted, we were unable to determine precisely how the Panther had killed the Alligator. It is worthwhile to note that the tail of the alligator was intact, similar to our observations at other Alligator kill sites. After photographing and measuring the carcass (269.2 cm TL), we followed the drag Figure 2. American Alligator killed by the Panther; note that the feeding occurred along the underside of the neck and not the tail. 856 Southeastern Naturalist Notes Vol. 9, No. 4 mark back approximately 80 m to the bank of a narrow slough where the Panther had attacked the Alligator. Broken Panicum hemitomon J.A. Schultes (Maidencane) and flattened grass graphically detailed the area where these two predators had struggled at the waters edge. On 21 March 2008, at the request of Big Cypress National Preserve’s wildlife biologist, Deborah Jansen, we returned to the kill site to recover the skull of the Alligator and noted that the Panther had not returned to feed on the carcass. Acknowledgments. We thank the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and the US Fish and Wildlife Service for funding our annual Panther survey, and we thank John Kellam for his assistance with manuscript and photographic edits. We appreciated and used the editorial recommendations of the journal’s reviewers and subject editor. Literature Cited Beier, P., M.R. Vaughan, M.J. Conroy, and H. Quigley. 2003. An analysis of scientific literature related to the Florida Panther. Final Report. Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, Tallahassee, fl. Dalrymple, G.H., and O.L. Bass, Jr. 1996. The diet of the Florida Panther in Everglades National Park, Florida. Bulletin of t the Florida Museum of Natural History 39(5):173–193.