a panthers magic, it helps veil the panther from prying eyes.
Puma concolor: is
named in honor of its coat. Con color means one color. The coat color of a puma is generally considered uniform throughout
its native lands, from Canada to the United States, right down to the tip of South America.
Some people say it is plain or dull when measured up against the exotic stripes of a tiger, spots of a cheetah,
or rosettes of a clouded leopard. I disagree; it is actually one of the most beautiful. When looking closely at the fur of
a panther in Florida or a mountain lion in Montana, there is a huge amount of variation in the tones of their coat.
The coat is a pelage, and pelage is fur which is made up of hairs. The individual
hairs can be different colors & lengths; this is what creates the patterning and changes in consistency of the fur in
certain areas on the body e.g. the facial markings in comparison to the torso, or the hair on the tail compared to the underbelly.
A pumas fur can be made up of red, cinnamon, silver, gray, cream, white, black &
brown hairs, not really so dull after all. Certain hues have been noted in different geographic areas. Florida panthers and
their kin living in humid & tropical places tend to be redder; for those in arid areas beige tones, and cats in the higher
mountain ranges the darker grays predominate. There have also been reports of melanistic and albino cougars.
The panthers muted tones are designed to blend in with its surroundings, its universal
color has helped it melt into a stunning array of habitats: from swamps to prairies, deserts to mountain tops, canyons to
forests. This camouflage allows it to remain unnoticed when stalking its primary prey, deer, elk, bighorn, & prong horn
sheep. But its color also enables it to recognize its own kind while standing out from other felines. If a panther meets a
Jaguar he can see that they are different.
The purpose of the fur, its color
& pattern, is to give protection and insulation from the elements, provide camouflage, and accentuate body features
and gestures. Its consistency changes with the season, pumas have a summer & winter coat, they shed their hair including
whiskers. The top coat is comprised of guard hairs which are longer & courser, the undercoat is shorter and more wooly.
Cougars surviving the Colorado winter will have very thick fur coats, whereas Florida panthers wading through steamy swamps
in the middle of summer, a much lighter one. Kits are spotted and more grayish, as they mature the spots begin to fade
and they become more beige, spots are absent, or at the very least extremely faint by the time they reach adulthood.
Along with stealth, a pumas coat is a major key to its illusiveness,
and is most definitely an expression of its secretive nature.