Date of this Version
Southeastern Naturalist, 11(1):149-154
Estrus behavior by females for reasons other than reproduction (pseudo-estrus) has been reported in species of primates and felids, and alternative hypotheses have been put forth to explain its evolution and function. We observed 3 separate cases of pseudo-estrus behavior by 2 Puma concolor coryi (Florida Panther) females while they were nursing young (old) kittens. We used VHF and GPS telemetry data, genetic pedigree analysis, and visual observations to provide insight into the evolutionary and practical implications of this behavior for Panthers. We suggest that female Panthers likely consort with males while nursing kittens to maintain amicable relations with these males to prevent infanticide. For studies monitoring Puma dens with radio-telemetry, pseudo-estrus events may be confused with litter abandonment, and thus our observations are useful to fi eld biologists who may consider removing kittens from the wild following presumed abandonment events to prevent kitten mortality.