The leopard is a cat with a large skull, short legs, and a coat marked with rosettes. It can run up to 58 km/h (36 mph) and is found in various habitats.
The leopard’s fur is soft and thick and varies in color from pale yellowish to dark golden. It has round pupils and dark spots that fade toward the white underbelly and the insides and lower parts of the legs.
Leopard Facts for Kids
- Leopards can run 36 miles per hour.
- Leopards are carnivores
- They live between 12 – 17 years
- Leopards are very skilled climbers
- They are nocturnal.
- Leopards are very solitary.
What do Leopards look like?
Leopards are mostly light-colored with distinctive dark spots called rosettes. It is common to call black panthers black leopards because their spots are hard to distinguish.
Where do Leopards Live?
Leopards live worldwide, including in Sub-Saharan Africa, northeast Africa, Central Asia, India, and China.
What do Leopards Eat?
Leopards are carnivores (meat eaters), and their diet includes
Leopards are ambush predators. Despite spending up to 18 months with their mothers, leopards are solitary animals and hunters and only join forces to mate. To spot prey, leopards use their excellent hearing and vision.
Leopards drag their carcasses into trees so they can snack on them later.
How do Leopards Hunt?
Leopards stalk or ambush their prey. They get as close to their target as possible, and in a quick burst (up to 60km/h), it springs on their prey and bites it to death on the neck.
The leopard has no way of pursuing its quarry over a long distance, and the intended victim will give up if the surprise element is lost.
Females give birth to two or three cubs at a time. They give birth all year. It takes a mother two years to teach her cubs how to hunt and care for themselves. Then the baby leopard becomes independent.
Types of Leopard
The African leopard is a subspecies of the leopard and is widely distributed in sub-Saharan Africa.
The African leopard has a varied coat that varies in color depending on location and habitat. Males are larger than females and can weigh up to 91 kg.
Black leopards in North Africa are similar in size to lions but appear smaller in the mountains of the Cape Provinces.
Sri Lankan Leopard
The Sri Lankan leopard is found in all habitats throughout the island, including arid and wet zones.
They are solitary hunters and prefer to hunt at night. They are also active during dawn, dusk, and daytime but rarely haul their kills into trees.
The survival of the Sri Lankan leopard is threatened by increasing habitat loss and fragmentation, together with an increased risk of human-induced mortality. Leopards are killed by people accidentally in wire snares set for other species or as retaliation after livestock depredation.
The Javan leopard lives in protected areas in Indonesia.
The Javan leopard’s prey includes barking deer, wild boar, Java mouse deer, and primates, and it is also known to prey on domestic dogs, chickens, and goats.
They are threatened by habitat loss, poaching, and conflict with local people.
The Indochinese leopard is a threatened species in Southeast Asia and southern China. Its population is decreasing due to habitat loss and poaching.
Its skin is almost rusty-red in ground color but paler at the sides, with short hair on the back.
The Indochinese leopard is found in Southeast Asia but has almost disappeared in Myanmar.
The Amur leopard is a rare subspecies of leopard, found only in southeastern Russia and northern China.
The Amur leopard is a subspecies of leopard found in eastern Siberia. It is also known as the “Siberian leopard” and the “Korean leopard.”
They are usually confined to mountainous areas. It crosses the Tumen River between Russia, China, and possibly North Korea.
North Chinese Leopards are classified as Endangered and live in highly fragmented ranges. They are native to northern parts of China, with about 100 existing in captivity.
Unlike other leopard subspecies, they have a darker orange background fur.
The Iranian Plateau and surrounding areas are home to the leopard subspecies Panthera pardus tulliana.It is listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List.
Leopards in southern Armenia and Iran prey on wild goats, mouflon, wild boar, roe deer, goitered gazelle, Indian crested porcupine, and European hare. They also attack livestock and herding dogs.
The Arabian leopard, a subspecies of leopard, is critically endangered and thought to be declining continuously.
They live in mountainous uplands and hilly steppes but rarely move to open plains, deserts, or coastal lowlands. It prefers well-vegetated terrain that is difficult for humans to reach.
Arabian leopards are predominantly nocturnal but are also seen in daylight. They eat small to medium-sized prey and store carcasses of large prey in caves or lairs but not in trees.
The Indian leopard, Panthera pardus fusca, is a leopard subspecies widely distributed on the Indian subcontinent. It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
They are large cat that lives in tropical rainforests, dry deciduous forests, temperate forests, and northern coniferous forests.
The leopard is elusive, solitary, and largely nocturnal. It is capable of running at over 58 kph (36 mph), leaping over 6 m (20 ft) horizontally, and jumping up to 3 m (9.8 ft) vertically.
More Interesting Facts about Leopards
- Leopards live in varied habitats that include grassland, mountains, forests, and deserts.
- Leopards are considered to be the strongest member of the big cats. Their strength gives them the ability to carry very heavy prey, and their ability to climb trees offers them the chance to hang their prey in the trees so that other predators don’t try to steal it.
- Leopards are one of the most agile cats. They can leap horizontally to 6m, vertically to 3m, and reach running speeds of 58km per hour. They are excellent swimmers as well.
- The leopard has developed the ability to hide and is secretive and elusive. This makes it difficult to track in the wild.
- The leopard has a large territory and is mostly a solitary cat.
- Males have larger territories than females, and they often overlap.
- They mark their territories by urinating and leaving claw marks on trees to warn others to stay out of their area.
- Leopards share a few of the same traits as our domesticated cats. When they are angry, they will growl, and when contented, they can purr. If they are near the area of another leopard, they will make a raspy coughing noise to announce that they are there.
- A mother leopard will have between two and three cubs; for the first eight weeks, she stays in the area and keeps them hidden for protection.
- The spots on leopards are distinctive and unique to each animal and are called “rosettes.”
- Black leopards may have dark fur, almost like it is completely black, but they also have the same spots. Some of the black leopards are mistakenly called ‘black panthers.’
- Female leopards have very nurturing natures. In one film for National Geographic, the crew witnessed a leopard killing a baboon to eat.
- When the leopard noticed a baby baboon clinging to the dead mother, the leopard carried the baby into a tree, protected it, groomed and cuddled it, and cared for it as she would have for her own baby.