Melanistic Bobcat Caught

Posted by: Loren Coleman on August 27th, 2007

Melanistic Bobcat Caught

Readers of Cryptomundo are aware of the discussions of black bobcats in a specific area of Florida, and of how these reports have tracked down through the years, along with more recent appearances of melanistic felines.

Breaking news is coming to me from Mark Fraser of Big Cats in Britian ( confirming the sightings.

Mark passes along the following August 27, 2007 Florida report from a nuisance wildlife trapper:

I am a state licensed nuisance wildlife trapper located in southern Florida. I thought you might be interested in this. On Wednesday night I was contacted by a very excited/scared land owner in Martin County, Florida. The day before something killed her 30lb male turkey. She arrived home Wednesday evening to begin searching for the carcass which she couldn’t find on Tuesday. As she came out of the cane grass she saw what she described to me as a large black cat. Larger than a bobcat, more like panther size.

She was convinced that what she saw was someone’s escaped black jaguar or black leopard. I headed up the next morning to search for sign of a large cat but found only bobcat size prints along the bank of the Okeechobee Waterway (St. Lucie Canal) on her property known as “The Last Stand”. After doing some research I believed that what I was searching for was a melanistic bobcat.

I set up the live-catch trap baited with a fresh killed rooster. The next morning I got the cat. A 16 lb., ~2 year old, healthy male melanistic bobcat.
The cat is alive and well and currently being kept at a local wildlife center until a decision is made as to where he will end up. I have been able to track down 13 previous confirmed (either captured cats or photo evidence) records of melanistic bobcats in south and south central Florida since the 1st one in 1939.

I believe this male makes 14 and currently the only living one in captivity….Feel free to pass along this [information] and attached photos.Deron Hartman, Busch Wildlife Sanctuary

Melanistic Bobcat Caught

Melanistic Bobcat Caught


Caution must be given, however, to the now surfacing media reports that this captured bobcat “explains” all the reports of black panthers.

A dispatch from Busch tonight says:

For years there have been stories of Black Florida Panthers prowling in our wilderness, but there’s never been any official record they exist.

Now that mystery may be over.

A cat has been captured and researchers at the Busch Wildlife
Sanctuary say they now know what people were referring to when they
said they saw the panther.

We’re all familiar with the Florida Panther, golden in color and
about 130 pounds.

You may have also heard of a “Black Panther,” which has been like our
local Lochness [sic] Monster; people have said they’ve seen it, but it’s never been caught.Busch Wildlife Sanctuary

The organization follows this catching of this bobcat with further statements that it is the solution to black panther sightings.

I sincerely doubt if this one or two county gene pool of melanistic bobcats is the source of all the reports of “black panthers” even in Florida, let alone the rest of the eastern North America. Nature is never that simplistic, although the debunkers, as projected through the media, would have us believe this to be true.

Loren Coleman About Loren Coleman
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.

40 Responses to “Melanistic Bobcat Caught”

  1. BugMO responds:

    Beautiful animal.

  2. harleyb responds:


  3. Gihdora responds:

    I live in Palm Beach County, the next county south, and I just saw a melanistic bobcat last week. They’re here.

  4. Gihdora responds:

    The place the bobcat is at is Busch Wildlife sanctuary, BTW

  5. achtungpv responds:

    I wonder if this is what some friends and I saw in South Texas back in ’90. We were spotlighting one night and about 100 feet away was a large black cat…much too large to be a house cat…probably 25-30 lbs. It took off and jumped a barbed wire fence easily. I always thought it was a black panther but from what I’ve learned they supposedly don’t exist in TX.

  6. SOCALcrypto responds:

    Wow, this cat is beautiful. I hope all goes well for him. I hope they release him back in the wild.

  7. sschaper responds:

    The face looks like a werewolf.

  8. sasquatch responds:

    We should not be so quick to doubt eyewitness accounts. More proof is what this is. Most black panther sighting reports include; “It had a long tail”; Bobcats don’t have much of a tail to speak of. If they can be melanistic, why not cougars? There was even reports of black mountain lions is Colorado a few years back-I thought maybe it was a Jaguar that wandered up from Mexico-They’ve been filmed in the mountains above Tucson, so… But maybe the truth is melanistic cougar (mountain lion, puma).


    This cat doesn’t look nothing like the Bobcats you might see in California. Great photos!

  10. Bob K. responds:

    Some folks, of course, will now use this finding to file ALL reports of large melanistic felines as black bobcat sightings. Newsflash to these folks; WE DONT KNOW EVERYTHING THERE IS TO KNOW ABOUT THE NATURAL WORLD YET! We may indeed soon find out that, yes Virginia, there are melanistic cougars. Beyond that (and based on some of what I’ve read, I’m sort of holding out hope for this) there may just be a large feline native to North America-neither cougar, jaguar, or bobcat-that has yet to be catalogued by science.

  11. ShefZ28 responds:

    looks photoshopped 😉

  12. youcantryreachingme responds:

    19 lb bobcat vs 130lb panther. The thing to note is the witness was convinced they’d seen a panther – when they actually saw something barely an eighth the weight.

    Gorgeous cat.

  13. crgintx responds:

    Strangest bobcat I’ve ever seen. No ear tufts, looks of too slight build for a bobcat. The muzzle is longer and narrower than any bobcat that I’ve seen. Still, it should be relocated to a less populated area and set free.

  14. Rappy responds:

    That is truly a magnificent creature. Also, I find the idea that a bobcat could explain away all black panther reports, to be blunt, stupid. I’ve seen bobcats, I’ve seen panthers, and I’ve gathered panther reports enough to feel that they need to be a bit less ready to jump to such a blanketing explanation.

  15. Sunny responds:

    Someone once said on this site that ‘melanistic’ meant no fur anywhere that wasn’t black.

    If that’s the case, then this gorgeous guy isn’t melanistic, either — he’s got a white patch on his belly.

    Hope all the right decisions are made so this cat can go back to being a wild animal.

  16. cmgrace responds:

    I agree with crgintx. That is the strangest bobcat I have ever seen either. I can see how the lady thought it was a panther. Except for the fur around the face, I would have thought that too.

  17. chris from flickerbulb dot com responds:



  18. Sunny responds:

    Loren, I’m assuming that they’ll be doing DNA tests, etc., to figure out where in the animal kingdom this guy fits it — please keep us updated as you can.

    I might live very close to Busch Gardens’ wildlife preserve, but there’s very little information publicized by them.

  19. Daryl Colyer responds:

    Melanistic bobcats?


    So, why is it a stretch then to consider that there might also be melanistic cougars and jaguars roaming North America in small numbers?

  20. TheBlessedBlogger responds:

    16 pounds? I’m surprised, it looks much larger than I would expect for 16 pounds. I have a black house-cat much smaller than that and he weighs sixteen pounds. Very odd.

  21. michaelm responds:

    it looks like an otter…

  22. bill green responds:

    hey loren & everyone wow very interesting article about a black bob cat. thats photo of the captured bob cat is very interesting too. that black bob cat looks like a great animal. good afternoon bill green 🙂

  23. JJohnston responds:


    What is the possibility that this is a new, as yet unknown, sub-species of bobcat? This one looks a little thin. On the melanistic cougar, I myself have seen them in western PA years ago. My brothers and I watched a black cougar cross the field above our house one rainy morning outside Youngstown. We had a black bears in the area as well, but bears and cats don’t move quite the same.

  24. alandp responds:

    There are some cougars in south Texas, although they are not common. I see no reason why some of them might not be black.

    Fifty years ago, cougars ranged all over this area, but they were pretty much hunted out. One was spotted in northwest San Antonio a few weeks ago.

    Bobcats are becoming more and more common around here. I spotted one myself a couple of weeks ago. Just a regular bobcat, though, not black.

  25. alandp responds:

    Also, I’ve heard of bobcats interbreeding with domestic cats. Maybe this one is a hybrid.

  26. cladari responds:

    I work with the woman in whose yard this was caught, her name is Helen if that matters. She does not live anywhere near what could be called a populated area. She lives along the C-18 canal in way western Martin County. The only reason she even attempted to trap it is because it was killing her turkeys, which she kept as pets and a few of which she has had for many years.

    I heard the continuing saga every day as she came into work ( she worked with me as her second job, working 330 to 7pm four days a week ) and one day she came home and it was sitting on her coop, it did not run when she approached but just jumped down from the coop and slowly walked away. She did say it was very large, turns out that was a bit of a stretch. We all assumed it was some exotic that got away from the owner since it had no fear of humans. I immediatlely thought Bobcat but she insisted it had a long snout and I’ve never heard of a Bobcat like that.

    Long story short she had it trapped, no charge if the trapper could keep the animal and she made him promise he would not destroy it but turn it into Busch Wildlife Refuge. Once he saw it he knew it was something special and gave it to Busch.

    BTW Busch Wildlife is a native animal rescue center in Jupiter, Fla, and is not associated with Busch Gardens.

    This looks like no Bobcat I’ve ever seen to be sure.

  27. Terry W. Colvin responds:

    The black “bobcat” looks more like a feral housecat.

    Of course the nuisance trapper should know what he is talking about. I hope this isn’t taken as too personal. In October 2003, I saw what I and Bob Mantz perceived to be a black mountain lion. This was around 6:15 AM on the East Range of Fort Huachuca, Arizona. The fort and adjacent town of Sierra Vista are about 70 miles SE of Tucson. Yes, jaguars have been photographed and spotted in southern Arizona south of Tucson and into SE New Mexico. Again, the black animal we saw had the loose pelt and lanky build of a mountain lion. In our opinion it was not a melanistic jaguar.

  28. Scrabbydoo responds:

    Hansome devil ain’t he?! I agree that DNA testing should be done. This bobcat looks like a cross of a Bobcat and an Onyx Burmese Housecat to me. My Onyx Burmese Cat weighs almost double this bobcat (28 lbs). He also has the white patch near the groin area that Onyx Burmese Cats tend to have. So testing should be done to see if this is a hybrid, subspecies, or a new breed.

    Hybrids definately happen! Several years ago a friend’s cat gave birth to 4 cute little kittens. All four had stubby little tails, cheeck ruffs, and ear tuffs. 4 little calico bobcat hybrids running through the house. Luckily they took after their mother in size. They did have their daddy’s attitude tho. Mean little suckers! Tho all 4 found nice homes.

  29. The Night Stalker responds:

    I have to agree. This cat looks to be crossbred. Too thin for a bobcat, no ear tufts, and the face is too long.

  30. kittenz responds:

    In don’t think it’s a “crossbreed” or a hybrid. I think that black bobcats will turn out to be a separate species. The ones that I have seen are more gracile than ordinary bobcats. Their fur also looks shorter and sleeker. Since they have been captured, killed, or photographed in the same general area over a period of several decades, I doubt that they are any sort of feral or mixed breed. I think they are an elusive localized species which is coming to light as humans are beginning to encroach on its habitat.

    Bobcats don’t have such obvious ear tufts as other lynxes, and this fellow does look a lot like a bobcat in many ways. But I think that the DNA test results will be interesting 🙂

  31. Sunny responds:

    Any updates on this guy, Loren?

    Scrabbydoo, the more I read your post, the more I think you are on to something — we were adopted by an Onyx Burmese some years ago — and the long muzzle, golden eyes, and long lanky legs fit right into the Burmese characteristics as much as the white belly patch and sleek fur do.

    To be fair, though — Kittenz’ comments are also true — and I doubt there were many onyx Burmese around when these sitings began.

  32. DARHOP responds:

    alandp responds:
    August 28th, 2007 at 6:05 pm
    Also, I’ve heard of bobcats interbreeding with domestic cats. Maybe this one is a hybrid.
    Exactly what I’m thinking.. This animals features are different from your normal Bobcat… And different from a Linx also… It is either a New Species or a crossbreed… Beautiful animal though.. Hope it is released…

  33. catz responds:

    I’m not really surprised that a black bobcat has been found. Genetics have a way of surprising us every once in a while. Any record of an albino yet? These color anomalies are bound to happen sooner or later with any specie and when they do it sure looks stunning!

    Also, are there Lynx in this area? If so, I’ve read many reports that Lynx are interbreeding with local Bobcat populations in other areas. The offspring have longer faces. There is a site that shows many pics of these known crosses and they look similar except for the color. If it is a Lynx cross, or some other hybrid, I wouldn’t be surprised if they eventually find out that the combination of these two completely different gene pools unlocks or creates these new color variants.

  34. realfarknmccoy responds:

    That animal is a hybrid between a bobcat and a domestic cat – you can see that it has white marking between its back legs (a common color pattern in domestic black cats which is NOT found in melanistic wild cats).

  35. bigcathunter24 responds:

    i want one

  36. batecobre responds:

    I just saw one on Sunday Morning!!!!!!!! Wesley Chapel area in an area of lots of wilderness with some new construction. I saw one (a large black cat, that looked too dark to be a fl panther) cross a new blvd. that has no homes around it. I was walking my dogs, and about 100-150 feet away I saw a huge black cat cross the blvd. Definitely not a large domestic cat, I could tell by the slightly lumbering run. I first thought it may be a jaguar, or a cougar, but that would be impossible.
    I kept looking for it but could not find it again. Nice to see people’s comment and pictures of the black bobcats.

  37. batecobre responds:

    In reading more of the posts, I would definitely say it looked in the 130lb range, and not in the 16-25 lb range. This was a huge cat, had a long tail, and did not have the long (beard) cheek hairs like the pictures above. I’m not an expert nor am I an aficionado, but what I saw is a pretty good description. Like I said, my first gut reaction was “I DIDNT KNOW FLORIDA HAD BLACK JAGUARS!!!!!!”. I came back, got on the internet and saw how it was unlikely, but possible. Chalk me up as a witness to a large black cat that looked like a jaguar, looked to be possibly over 100 lbs, and a long tail.

  38. cbdreaming responds:

    uhm. i have a plethora of wildlife video clips and stills from a cam i put out about 1/2 mile from my house..all taken in the last 6 months…4 or 5 different black bears..nice bucks..huge oh yeah a melanistic panther…all videoed near my home in the blue ridge mtns…i have only shared these pics with a few…but rest assured..doubt each other no longer..there are black panthers out thar…small..4 a panther..about 80 lbs…still…a proof positive sighting!!

  39. archide responds:

    Shot one in Corbett Dec. 31, 2010………I have pics, but how do I post them?

  40. archide responds:

    And this bobcat that I have, looks like a bobcat, does not have the elongated face, tufts on it face and short tail.

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