Big cats like panthers, lions, and tigers are beautiful, impressive animals. People are often intrigued by the idea of having a wild cat as a pet, but what kind of pets are these big cats actually?
While trade in these animals is prohibited, they are available in several countries from breeders. This means that it is possible to own a large and powerful panther, whether or not you are equipped to properly care for it.
How Much Does a Black Panther Cost?
Panthers are not the cheapest pets to have. An average panther cub costs anywhere between $5,000 and $20,000, without including the food costs, that would be anywhere between $8,000 and $10,000 per year.
Also, you need to consider the costs of building a shelter, an outdoor enclosure, safety-proofing your house, insurance, permits, transportation requirements, vet bills, and panther-proof toys.
According to the organization dedicated to caring for abandoned pet big cats, Big Cat Rescue, when you keep a panther, you will probably spend around $100,000 in the first year, and more than $10,000 per year afterward.
Black panther cub overview
Did you know that a panther is not actually a real species? The panther is, in fact, a genus of large mammals, which includes the lion, the tiger, the leopard, and the jaguar. However, usually, when people talk about the panther, they are really talking about the black panther.
The black panther is actually the color variant of the leopard (Panthera pardus) and the jaguar (Panthera onca). Black panthers of both species have excess black pigments, but their typical rosettes are also present. It’s just that they can no longer be easily seen.
A black panther like the leopard is very adaptable and can live in many different places around the globe. Leopards are found in sub-Saharan Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, southwestern and eastern Turkey, the Sinai/Judean desert of Southwest Asia, the foothills of the Himalayas, India, Russia, China, and the islands of Java and Sri Lanka.
These wild animals can live in almost any type of habitat, including rainforests, deserts, woodlands, grassland savannas, montane habitats, coastal scrub, scrublands, and swampy areas. In fact, panthers and leopards live in more places than any other big cat. However, their number is constantly decreasing.
Can I have a pet black panther?
Yes, in some places it is allowed to have a panther as a pet, but this is not necessarily a good idea. Obviously, having a black panther cub as a “pet” comes with many responsibilities and risks. These animals need a lot of outdoor space where they can run and climb on trees, with logs where they can sharpen their claws. Also, they must be kept in a secured area.
It is very expensive and difficult to build a shelter capable of keeping such a super agile animal.
Panthers are eating only meat because they are hypercarnivores. So, in order to remain healthy, they need large amounts of high-quality raw meat, carcasses, and bones.
And, in case they ever get sick, they need to be visited by a specialized wildlife vet. Moreover, the treatment is very expensive and likely hard to find.
Also, it is very important to consider the fact that panthers don’t want to be owned as a pet, in an enclosed space. Even though most panther owners may say they treat their pets great, most probably the animals aren’t all that comfortable.
Do panthers make good pets?
If the thought of owning a big cat still intrigues you, there are some factors to consider before you meet with the breeder.
The fate of many of the panthers is a life of neglect or even abuse when their owners can no longer handle them. The decision to own a big cat comes with a high level of responsibility for these animals, one that most people find overwhelming after the first few years.
Even smaller wild cats such as servals and lynxes cannot be compared to domestic cats. Different species have different temperaments, but all of these cats, including panthers can exhibit unwanted behavior from marking their territory with urine to aggression.
Panthers need a lot of space, and they usually need specially built-cages. These cages need to be secure as there is a very high risk that the feral cat will escape and attack someone.
Is it legal to own a pet panther?
In most countries, it is illegal to own panthers as pets, but there are still some areas in the world where this is allowed by the law. For instance, in certain states of the United States, like Oklahoma, Alabama, and North Carolina, you will find very few to no laws regarding the ownership of a panther.
If you have a permit, you are allowed to own a panther in other states. You may be surprised, but in many European countries, like the Czech Republic, France, and Germany, it is legal to own a pet panther with a license.
Also, it is legal to own a pet panther without a permit in some African and Asian countries like South Africa, Thailand, and Pakistan.
In many Middle East countries, it was legal to own exotic pets until recently. Most people did it as a type of status symbol. However, in the last few years, most countries in the Middle East, like Saudi Arabia and UAE, banned this practice. Unfortunately, this does not stop illegal trade and breeding.
Can these endangered animals be domesticated?
Feral cats can be ‘tamed’ for use in shows (or for the few odd people who want to keep them at home), but they are not ‘domesticated’. Therefore, any panther you are dealing with can, at any moment, decide to attack you.
No matter how fascinating or exotic it may seem, think twice before taking a panther as your companion. Currently, we must focus more on preserving the natural habitat of animals, and not on its damage.
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