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The leopard is a carnivorous (meat-eating) mammal. They belong to the Felidae family. Not only are leopards adaptable hunters, the climates in which they are found vary greatly. Whether it’s the mountains of Afghanistan or the jungles of India, the leopard is one of the most widespread of the big cats. In captivity, the leopard can live as long as 21 years. Keep reading for more facts and information on the leopard or alternatively download our comprehensive worksheet pack to utilize within the classroom or home environment.
Facts about Leopards
- The leopard (Panthera pardus) is a member of the cat family Felidae.
- They are graceful, powerful and cunning big cats closely related to lions, jaguars, and tigers.
- They live in sub-Saharan Africa, northeast Africa, Central Asia, India, and China.
- Many leopard populations are endangered, especially outside of Africa due to poaching, hunting, and habitat destruction.
- Leopards are graceful, powerful and cunning big cats, closely related to lions, jaguars and tigers.
- Compared to other wild cats, the leopard has a large skull, relatively shorter legs, and a long body.
- The leopard is easily identified by its coat which has rosette patterns that help it camouflage itself. The rosette patterns are unique to each animal.
- A leopard is sometimes confused with a jaguar because of its similar appearance, but a leopard has a smaller and lighter body, and the rosettes on its coat are typically smaller, more closely packed, and without central spots.
- It has the ability to adapt to a variety of habitats ranging from rainforest to steppe, including arid and montane areas.
- Leopards can run at speeds of up to 58 km/h (36 mph).
- Their main habitat is in the bush or in forests.
- The leopard is very comfortable climbing trees.
- It is also so strong it can haul the largest animal it’s killed into a tree to keep it away from scavengers.
- The earliest known leopard fossils, excavated in Europe, are estimated to be 600,000 years old.
Size, Weight, and Color
- As with many big cats, male leopards are larger and heavier compared to females.
- Leopards have relatively short limbs and a broad head.
- Males can reach 23.6–27.6 in (60–70 cm) at the shoulder. Females are typically 57–64 cm (22.4–25.2 in) tall.
- The head-and-body length ranges between 2 ft 11.4 in and 6 ft 5.2 in (90 and 196 cm) with a 2 ft 2.0 in, to 3 ft 4.2 in (66 to 102 cm) long tail.
- Sizes vary geographically and have a lot to do with the temperature – the colder it is, generally the larger the animal is.
- Males weigh 81.6–198.4 lb (37–90 kg), and females 61.7–132.3 lb (28–60 kg).
- 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.
Habitat, Hunting, and Diet
- The leopard has the largest distribution of all wild cats.
- They occur widely in Africa, Caucasia, and Asia, although populations are fragmented and declining.
- In sub-Saharan Africa, there are still many, and have survived in marginal habitats where other large cats have disappeared. This is largely due to them being secretive, nocturnal creatures.
- One of the biggest threats to leopards is human-leopard conflict because of their tendency to prey on livestock like goats and sheep.
- In India, the leopard is still relatively abundant.
- As of 2020, the leopard population within forested habitats in India’s tiger range landscapes was estimated at 12,172 to 13,535 individuals.
- Some leopard populations in the country live quite close to human settlements and even in semi-developed areas.
- Due to the leopard’s stealth, people often remain unaware that it lives in nearby areas.
- The leopard is a carnivore (meat-eater) that prefers medium-sized prey with a body mass ranging from 10–40 kg (22–88 lb).
- Leopards eat fish, antelope, reptiles, rodents, birds, hares, hyraxes, warthogs, antelopes, monkeys, and baboons.
- The leopard depends mainly on its acute senses of hearing and vision for hunting.
- Leopards have a good sense of smell and they mark their territory with urine.
- They also leave claw marks on trees.
- It primarily hunts at night in most areas.
- In the Serengeti, they have been observed to ambush prey by jumping down on it from trees, although they usually hunt on the ground.
- The animal stalks its prey and tries to approach as closely as possible, typically within 5 m (16 ft) of the target, and, finally, pounces on it and kills it by suffocation.
- It kills small prey with a bite to the back of the neck but holds larger animals by the throat to strangle them.
- It eats small prey immediately, but drags larger carcasses over several hundred meters and caches it safely in trees, bushes, or even caves.
- The way it stores the kill depends on local topography and individual preferences, varying from trees in Kruger National Park to bushes in the plain terrain of the Kalahari.
- Average daily consumption rates of 3.5 kg (7 lb 11 oz) were estimated for males and 2.8 kg (6 lb 3 oz) for females.
- Leopards drink water every two to three days and feed infrequently on moisture-rich plants.
Lifecycle of Leopards
- In some areas, leopards mate all year round.
- In Manchuria and Siberia, they mate during January and February.
- The female’s estrous cycle lasts about 46 days, and she usually is in the heat for 6–7 days.
- Gestation lasts for 90 to 105 days.
- Cubs are usually born in a litter of 2–4 cubs.
- The mortality of cubs is estimated at 41–50% during the first year.
- Females give birth in a cave, crevice among boulders, or in thickets.
- Cubs are born with closed eyes, which open four to nine days after birth.
- The fur of the young tends to be longer and thicker than that of adults.
- Around three months of age, the young begin to follow the mother on hunts.
- At one year of age, cubs can probably fend for themselves but remain with the mother for 18–24 months.
- The average typical lifespan of a leopard is 12–17 years.
- The oldest leopard was a captive female that died at the age of 24 years.
Leopards and Humans
- Leopards are shy and elusive. They will generally avoid humans.
- Leopard’s soft, dense, beautiful fur has been used for ceremonial robes and coats for millennia in many African cultures.
- Leopard fur was also a status symbol and display of luxury in the 19th century in Europe.
- Human-wildlife conflict is a major cause of death of leopards in the wild. They are killed because they hunt valuable livestock which increases in times of drought when their natural prey becomes scarce.
- In Africa and India, there have been rare cases of man-eaters, where leopards target humans as prey.
This bundle contains 10 ready-to-use Leopard Worksheets that are perfect for students who want to learn more The leopard which is a carnivorous (meat-eating) mammal. They belong to the Felidae family. Not only are leopards adaptable hunters, the climates in which they are found vary greatly.
Download includes the following worksheets
- Leopard Facts
- Quick Quiz
Cats in the Wild
- Big and Wild
- Something in Common
- Leopards Around the World
- Panthera Pardus Spelaea
- Feline Power
- Speak Leopard
- Leopard Art
- Leopard Word Creator
Frequently Asked Questions
What is special about a leopard?
Leopards are astoundingly strong. Pound for pound, they are the strongest of the big cats.
Are leopards friendly?
Leopards are the least social members of the big cat family. They shy away from interacting with other animals, as well as human beings.
Are leopards faster than cheetahs?
Cheetahs are the fastest animals in the world and can run up to 93 kilometers while hunting. Leopards are only half as fast as cheetahs.
Why do leopards sleep in trees?
Leopards like to carry their prey up into the trees so that scavengers, such as hyenas, don’t steal their meal. They also spend their days resting, camouflaged, in trees.
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Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.