Scientific Name: Panthera pardus
Lifespan: 21 years in captivity
Size: Head and body, 4.25 to 6.25 ft (1.3 to 1.9 m);
Tail, 3.5 to 4.5 ft (1.1 to 1.4 m)
Weight: 66 to 176 lbs (30 to 80 kg)
Protection status: Near Threatened
Leopards are graceful and powerful big cats closely related to lions, tigers, and jaguars. They live in sub-Saharan Africa, northeast Africa, Central Asia, India, and China. However, many of their populations are endangered, especially outside of Africa.
What does a leopard look like?
Leopards come in a wide variety of coat colors, from a light buff or tawny in warmer, dryer areas to a dark shade in deep forests. The spots, or rosettes, are circular in East African leopards but square in southern African leopards.
Where do leopards live?
Dense bush in rocky surroundings and riverine forest are their favorite habitats, but leopards adapt to many places in both warm and cold climates. Their adaptability, in fact, has helped them survive the loss of habitat to increasing human settlement. Leopards are primarily nocturnal, usually resting during the daytime in trees or thick bush. The spotted coat provides almost perfect camouflage.
What does a leopard eat?
The most elusive of the large carnivores, the leopard is a cunning, stealthy hunter, its prey ranges from strong-scented carrion, fish, reptiles and birds to mammals such as rodents, hares, hyraxes, warthogs, antelopes, monkeys and baboons. Both lions and hyenas have been known to take away a leopard's kill. To prevent this, leopards store their larger kills in trees where they can feed on them in relative safety. The leopard is so strong and comfortable in trees that it often hauls its kills into the branches. Leopards can also hunt from trees, where their spotted coats allow them to blend with the leaves until they spring with a deadly pounce.
What are the spots of the leopard called?
Most leopards are light colored with distinctive dark spots that are called rosettes, because they resemble the shape of a rose. Black leopards, which appear to be almost solid in color because their spots are hard to distinguish, are commonly called black panthers.
What is special about the leopards fur color?
Of all the cats, however, the leopard's fur color varies the most between individuals. Color usually is a reflection of geographic location. Leopards of the desert are pale yellow; those living among grasses take on a deeper shade of yellow; and in dense forests melanic leopards, known as black panthers, are comfortable hidden among the trees.
Did you know this about leopards?
Leopards are just at home in trees as they are on the ground. They spend entire days lounging on a tree branch, and can descend a tree headfirst.
The leopard is so powerful that it can haul an animal carcass three times its own weight up a tree, where it will feed safe from scavengers like hyenas and lions.
Leopards are solitary cats with large home ranges. Males have exceptionally large ranges in comparison to females, and tend to be very aggressive toward one another. Male-male encounters often end fatally.
Leopards announce their presence to other leopards with a rasping or sawing cough.
Adept climbers, leopards will often drag their food into trees to protect it from scavengers.
Leopards are strong swimmers and very much at home in the water, where they sometimes eat fish or crabs.
The elegant, powerfully built leopard has a long body, relatively short legs and a broad head. Its tawny coat is covered with dark, irregular circles called "rosettes."
Both lions and hyenas will take away a leopard's kill if they can. To prevent this leopards store their larger kills in trees where they can feed on them in relative safety.
Download free Leopard wallpapers, click on the image to open the large version.
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Leopard Coloring pages
Print free Leopard coloring pages, click on the image to open the large version.