When it's not a panther, it's a bobcat. Here's how to tell them apart
Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission helped a bobcat find its way down an electric pole Thursday, May 9, 2019, near the Florida Panther National Wildlife Refuge in Collier County. Naples Daily News
The cat could stop traffic, but it was no panther.
An adult bobcat found perched atop a power pole Thursday along Interstate 75 in Collier County sparked a traffic slowdown and a rescue attempt.
The cat seen Thursday morning on a Florida Department of Transportation camera mounted near mile marker 78 looked big enough and with a tail long enough to fool some folks.
Many online viewers mistook the bobcat for a panther, which isn't that hard to do since both are large cats that live in the Everglades.
"There’s some marking on the tips of the ear that are different and they are similar when they’re small because they’re spotted," said Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission spokeswoman Carol Lyn Parrish. "But as they mature they look completely different. And we’re in panther habitat, so I think many people just thought it was a juvenile."
When grown, there's a massive difference in size.
Adult panthers can weigh more than 100 pounds, while bobcats top out at a little over 30 pounds.
Both are sleek, slender and athletic.
Bobcats are yellowish-brown and marked with stripes, spots or both. They have white spots on the tips of their ears and have a bobbed tail, hence the name bobcat.
Panthers are fawn-to-tan with much longer tails and no markings on the ears.
Most panthers live south of Lake Okeechobee in Collier and Monroe counties while bobcats can be found in every region of the state.
Parrish said they're both capable climbers.
"They’re predatory animals so they’re seeking prey and they’ll take advantage from a higher platform to have a better visual so it might have been doing that," Parrish said of the Thursday power pole bobcat. "It might have been just curious."
Watch a panther, bear, bobcat and a turkey family take selfies as they are photographed with a camera trap