- The leopard is a graceful, powerful and cunning big cat closely related to lions, jaguars and tigers. They live in sub-Saharan Africa, northeast Africa, Central Asia, India, and China. However, many of their populations are endangered, especially outside of Africa. Their main habitat is in the bush or in forests.
- The leopard is the most successful of all the big cats. It is also very comfortable climbing trees. The leopard is so strong it can haul the largest animal its killed into a tree to keep it away from scavengers.
- Leopards can also hunt from trees, where their spotted coats allow them to blend with the leaves and branches until they spring with a deadly pounce. These nocturnal predators also stalk antelope, deer, and pigs by stealthy movements in the tall grass.
- The leopard lives alone and hunts mostly at night.
- Most leopards have a coat that is a tawny gold color with dark spots. However, the snow leopard is pure white and the panther, another type of leopard, is black. The spots, or rosettes, are circular in East African leopards but square in southern African leopards.
- Most leopards are about 28 inches at the shoulder and can weigh up to 200 pounds. Most leopards weigh in between 140 to 175 pounds with the male being larger and stronger than the female.
- Leopards slink close to the ground when stalking their prey. It can move through an entire herd of antelope without disturbing them merely by flipping its white tail over its back which is a sign that it is not hunting.
- When a leopard stalks prey, it keeps a low profile and slinks close to the ground. Leopards are also strong swimmers and very much at home in the water, where they sometimes eat fish or crabs. As they grow, cubs learn to hunt small animals.
- The leopard eats, fish, antelope, reptiles, birds, rodents, hares, hyraxes, warthogs, antelopes, monkeys and baboons.
- When content, a leopard will actually purr, but when angry scream and roar in fury.
- Leopards have a good sense of smell and they mark their territory with urine. They also leave claw marks on trees. This behavior warns other animals to stay away.
- A litter can include two to three cubs. The cubs are born with a gray coat with very light spots. The female cares for her cubs and stays with them until they are old and strong enough to go with her. The mother cat keeps her cubs hidden for about 8 weeks. Cubs live with their mothers for about two years.
- Leopards have long been preyed upon by man. Their soft, dense, beautiful fur has been used for ceremonial robes and coats.
Big Cats Online: Leopard
Big Cat Rescue
Cloud Leopards Fact Sheet
Clouded Leopard Project
Earth’s Endangered Creatures: Leopard Facts
Leopard Habitat Worldwide