Ralph Arwood Photography

Mom with Kitten 02-23-2018



On February 23, 2018 a panther mother with one kitten was photographed near the Fish Farm.



So far we have not been able to identify her. She does not have a cowlick or a kink in her tail. There are no obvious scars. She does have some white tick spots.



March 10,2018


Turns out Mom has three kittens!



March 14, 2018


After moving over to Little Corkscrew Island for a few days, they returned to Eagle Island.



March 25, 2018


Mom bring a rabbit home for breakfast.



March 26, 2018


The family moves across the Fish Farm.



April 6, 2018



April 11, 2018



April 12, 2018



Mom has a small cut in her right ear. When this is visible we can identify her. Unfortunately it is so small that it will not always be visible in trail camera videos.


She does not have a cow lick or a kink in her tail.



April 16, 2018


On the move.



April 17, 2018


Mom and the kittens check out Larry's three hour old scrape. They are learning to flehmen.



April 22, 2018


The kittens out without Mom.



May 19, 2018

Videos only show two kittens with Mom. Both kittens show signs of weakness in their rear legs. The weakness is most likely caused by a toxin or an infection.


A variety of infections -- viral, bacterial, fungal, parasitic -- can affect the spinal cord, leading to rear leg weakness in cats. Feline infectious peritonitis, or FIP, inflames the spinal cord due to an abnormal response to a coronavirus. Spinal pain and partial paralysis in two or four legs are common symptoms for this illness.


The feline leukemia virus may cause nerve damage leading to loss of motor control and rear leg weakness, which may lead to paraplegic paralysis. The rabies virus may present a variety of symptoms, though when the infection affects the spinal cord, motor control and reflexes deteriorate and paralysis progresses.


Fungal diseases, such as Cryptococcus neoformans, blastomyces and histoplasma affect the central nervous system, leading to spinal pain and partial or total paralysis. Protozoal infections including toxoplasmosis, and parasites such as verminous myelitis, may also cause spinal cord inflammation that impacts a cat's motor skills. Prognosis for regaining mobility depends on the infection. Many are not treatable.



May 21, 2018


The two kittens have stayed in the same area.



May 23, 2018


Video of a bobcat with a similar neuromuscular problem.



With this additional information the consensus of the panther veterinarians and biologist is that they are suffering from tick paralysis. Wikipedia has a good discussion of tick paralysis. If you would like a more detailed discussion check out the Merck Veterinary Manual.


May 25, 2018

We continue to get videos of Mom in the area between The Fish Farm and Little Corkscrew Island. We have not gotten any more videos of the kittens.



May 27, 2018


New video of the two sick kittens.



May 29, 2018


Another video of a bobcat with a similar neuromuscular problem.



May 30, 2018


Mom and the two kittens have moved back to Little Corkscrew Island. For the first time we got video of the kittens at S1.


Family at S1



Family at S5



Family at S6



June 4, 2018


At about 48 seconds into the following video you can hear the sick kitten chirp to his Mom. After that you can hear him stumbling through brush. We cannot see him on the video but you can see his sibling watching him.



June 10, 2018


Mom carrying a rabbit home is a good indication that at least one of her kittens is still alive.



June 13, 2018


Another rabbit for her kittens.



June 16, 2018


The bobcat while still showing signs of this illness, is still able to make a living.



June 19, 2018


Mom and the healthier of the two kittens headed west at the Fish Farm.



The weaker of the two kittens was left behind.



June 20, 2018


Mom and one kitten making their way from the Fish Farm to Little Corkscrew Island.



Mom and one kitten making their way back from Little Corkscrew Island to the Fish Farm.



The sick kitten trying to keep up with his family. This is at least day 32 of his illness.



The latest guess as to the cause of their illness is bromethalin toxicity (rat poison). While that is certainly  possible, the middle of the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary should be a long way from any rat poison. The Merck Veterinary Manual has more information on bromethalin toxicity.

Hopefully we will soon be able to catch the sick kitten and have a definitive diagnosis.


June 21, 2018

This is at least day 33 of his illness.



June 22, 2018


This is at least day 34 of his illness.



About three and a half hours after these trail camera videos were recorded, Carlton Ward saw and photographed Mom and the sick kitten at the Fish Farm. He watched them for half and hour.


July 4, 2018


Mom brings a rabbit home for dinner.



July 5, 2018


More video of sick kittens.



July 27, 2018


The FWC panther team captured one kitten. He was the healthiest one and probably the only one still alive. It is 69 days since we recorded the first video of the sick kittens.


A tracking collar was placed on the kitten, making him FP-253.



September 4, 2018


FP-253 is recorded hunting with his mother. We have had no videos of the other kitten since July 5, 2018.



FP-253



September 12, 2018


FP-253



September 19, 2018


FP-253 slipped out of his collar. The collar was recovered in the orange grove east of the Sanctuary.



September 24, 2018


FP-253 out with mother.



October 3, 2018


FP-253 and Mom



October 9, 2018


FP-253 and Mom



October 9, 2018


FP-253 and Mom



November 2, 2018


FP-253 and Mom



November 18, 2018


FP-253 and Mom



November 30, 2018


FP-253 and Mom



December 1, 2018


FP-253 and Mom


This is the last video we have of FP-253. Since he was not old enough or healthy enough to be on his own, it's likely that he either died or was killed by one of the older male panthers shortly after this video was recorded.



December 25, 2018


Mom is on a date with Larry.



December 27, 2018


Mom is on a date with a second male panther.



April 15, 2019


About the time we had hope to see her new family, Mom is again displaying mating behavior. It appears she has been lactating recently. Most likely she lost the pregnancy from December.



April 17, 2019


More waiting behavior.



All of her calling and scent marking attract the second male she was with in December 2018.



April 19, 2019


The date continues.



Hopefully in September we will see her new family.



August 16, 2019


We captured one short video of Mom at the Fish Farm. There is no evidence that she is pregnant or nursing. Had she become pregnant in April, she should have three week old kittens at this time.



On August 22, 2019 I was told me to remove all of my trail cameras from the Sanctuary by Lisa Korte, the Director of the Sanctuary. Sorry there will be no further up dates of this panther.