Leopard (Panthera pardus)
The leopard is the fourth largest cat in the world (after the tiger, lion and jaguar). Leopards live in Africa and Asia. These animals can be seen in thick, humid forests, they also like spending time near water. Leopards also inhabit desert, savanna regions and the mountains. These animals are among the most beautiful big cats – their limber bodies covered with soft, spotted fur are awe-inspiring.
- Class: Mammal
- Family: Felidae
- Subfamily: Pantherinae
- Genus: Panthera
African leopard (P. p. pardus), Amur leopard (P. p. orientalis), Arabian leopard (P. p. nimr), Indian leopard (P. p. fusca), Indochinese leopard (P. p. delacouri), Javan leopard (P. p. melas), North-Chinese leopard (P. p. japonensis), Persian leopard (P. p. saxicolor), Sri Lankan leopard (P. p. kotiya)
Trees – favorite resting place
Leopards are much smaller and lighter than lions or tigers, which makes them excellent climbers. They spend the majority of their time on trees, sleeping or resting among branches. They also drag their prey up trees, so that they’re not bothered by hyenas or vultures during their meal.
Leopard – the most mysterious cat
Leopards are the most mysterious among big cats. They are extremely careful and alert, so it is difficult to follow their lifestyle even in reserves. Thanks to their fur coloration – mostly yellow with black spots – a leopard hidden in grass or tree branches is practically invisible. There are also individuals with black fur.
Leopard – black panther
Among leopards, similarly to jaguars, apart from spotted individuals, there are also so called black panthers. These are melanistic leopards whose fur color is caused by the larger amount of a pigment called melanin. When you look closely at a leopard’s fur, you can see its characteristic spots, because the fur isn’t one hundred percent black.
Leopard and jaguar – a comparison
The leopard is often mistaken for the jaguar, which is, contrary to the leopard, a very muscular cat, and although they’re similar in appearance, the jaguar’s body is more robust. The leopard has slenderer legs and smaller chest. Apart from its appearance, the jaguar may be distinguished from the leopard by the look of their spots – the jaguar’s rosettes have small spots in the center. Furthermore, the jaguar and the leopard inhabit different areas.
Leopard can be dangerous for humans
The leopard is a very predatory cat, also dangerous for humans. It hunts medium-sized animals, mostly monkeys, antelopes, boars, and deer. The leopard also won’t refuse any smaller prey. It attacks bigger animals jumping onto their back and grasping their necks with its teeth. To catch its prey, the leopard can precisely leap for a great distance. Moreover, it hides the food waste on trees, where it returns only when it’s hungry, because it isn’t very fond of carrion. Because of being hunt for their valuable fur, leopards are endangered.
The Leopard (Panthera pardus)
Size of the leopard
- Body length: 100 – 150 cm (3ft 3.4in – 4ft 11in); the largest one: 190 cm (6ft 2.8in) – the Persian leopard
- Tail length: to 110 cm (3ft 7.3in)
- Height at shoulders: 60 – 80 cm (1ft 12in – 2ft 7.5in)
- Weight: female 60-80 kg (132 – 176lb), male 70-90 kg (154 – 198 lb)
- Lifespan: to 12 years in the wild (record: 17 years), to 25 years in captivity
Leopard – interesting facts. Do you know that…?
- Leopards are extremely strong. They can drag up a tree an animal much heavier than themselves.
- Leopards can come down a tree with their head towards the ground.
- Black panthers also have spots, but they are hardly visible.
- Young leopards are the most favorite meal of… baboons.
- Each leopard has a unique spot pattern and can be easily identified on its basis.
- The black panther is more aggressive than other leopards.
- Leopards can leap for a distance of up to 7 meters.
- Particular species of leopards can vary in their size and coloration.