Today we will talk about a member of the big cats: the Leopard. We will see the characteristics, habitat, food, reproduction, predators, and more relevant information about these wild animals of the jungle. Also, if you are curious about how to distinguish the Leopard from the Jaguar, we will answer that question in the end. So keep reading and find out all the facts you want about these wild animals.
What are Leopards look like? Characteristics
The main characteristic of this feline is its coat, this one is yellowish with dark rosettes; they are called rosettes since they resemble the form of a rose. These specks are black that go around a more considerable brown speck.
Their hind legs have 4 toes, while the front legs have 5 toes. All have retractable claws that are the Leopard’s primary deadly weapon; they are so strong that it can climb trees with them, even with large prey in its mouth.
Their size can range between 90 and 160 cm, with males being 30% larger than females. This is not counting its tail, which can reach a length of 110 cm. In terms of weight, males can weigh 90 kilos, while females about 60 kilos.
The Leopard has the characteristic that unlike other felines, it fits very well to its environment, only need a place with lots of vegetation and trees and large numbers of prey.
Where leopards live? Natural Habit
These wild animals, as we have already mentioned, can adapt to various habitats; and among those in the jungle. These felines love this environment because they are surrounded by numerous trees to climb, eat, and rest, in addition to the vast vegetation that is in this.
They can also be seen very often in African savannas, prairies, and mountains. As long as there is water, food, shelter, and a vast territory, the Leopard will be happy there.
What Leopards Eat?
Leopards are classified as carnivorous animals, so their diet is strictly meat-based. They like antelopes, zebras, wildebeests, and gazelles. So when these animals are found in the jungle, they feed on deer, pigs, wild boars, chimpanzees, and gorillas. They can also eat small reptiles and insects.
How does it reproduce? Form of reproduction
The courtship process begins when the female goes into heat, approximately for 7 days, and can be at any time of the year. She will make movements with the tail and attract her partner, and start mating.
The gestation of the Leopard can be from 90 to 105 days, and between 1 and 6 puppies will be born. However, unfortunately, the mortality rate of puppies is 50%. The female leaves her pups alone for periods of up to 36 hours, while she goes hunting.
The puppies are born developed but only with a weight of 1 kilo. They will keep their eyes closed for seven days, but with the care of the mother, after 6 weeks of life, the puppies will be able to climb trees.
In the African savannas, the potential predators of the Leopard are hyenas and lions, as these hunts not only them but also their offspring.
However, as is common in many animals, the largest predator of the Leopard is man, due to its beautiful skin. This animal is almost threatened with extinction.
Curiosities about the Leopard
Although the Leopard is one of the smallest members of the big cat family, it is the strongest in proportion to its size. This is evidenced by the fact that this animal can climb a tree to a prey three times its weight, something that no other big feline can do, including powerful lions. All these thanks to its sharp and resistant claws and its musculature in the back.
Formerly the Leopard was considered a hybrid between a lion and a panther. We can see it since its name comes from the combination of two Greek words, which in English are “Lion” and “Browns” (which means ‘male panther’).
A small population of these felines presents a genetic condition called melanism; that is, they are born with a very dark skin tone. When this happens, these leopards are known as black panthers. This can also occur in jaguars.
How to differentiate the Leopard from the Jaguar?
These two felines have an impressive resemblance, and it is that both belong to the genus Panthera. However, they have striking differences. For example, the Jaguar has a more robust appearance, and its legs are shorter than those of the Leopard. Besides, its tail is shorter in length. In turn, the Jaguar has a bite much more potent than that of the Leopard.
Which is bigger, Leopard or Jaguar?
The Leopard has a lower weight than the Jaguar, and this can be seen in its body mass because as already said, the Jaguar is more robust and corpulent, the Leopard has a slimmer figure. Also, finally, the skin of the Leopard has smaller dark rosettes than those of the jaguar.
Frequently Asked Questions about Leopards
In order to answer any questions you may have, we made this list of questions and answers.
Are leopards endangered?
That is right. This beautiful animal has been in danger of extinction since the mid-1900s, approximately between 1955 and the 1970s.
Why is it extinct? For the hunt that is carried out against it, excessively and cruelly for the simple fact of wanting to obtain its skin.
The skin of leopards in 1950 and even today (but to a lesser extent) was a great fashion icon among designers and people of high renown, so they were hunted to make the most elegant wallets, accessories, coats, and shoes from the skin of this beautiful animal.
However, not only poachers with commercial motives negatively affect this but also people who live near their habitats, mostly armed farmers kill them allegedly because they pose a threat to all their livestock and their self-defense because they fear that they will kill them.
The felling of the trees and the destruction of the habitat, in general, is another of the factors that have also put in danger of survival of the leopards since this affects not only to the environment where they are going to develop but also to their food chain.
How leopard got his spots?
Scientists from the University of Bristol, in the United Kingdom, answer that it is an evolutionary process associated with the environment in which these prey animals develop.
The team found that felines that live in environments with dense vegetation, in trees, and hunt when light is scarce are more likely to have skin patterns, especially irregular and intricate patterns.
This indicates that design details evolve with the goal of camouflage.
Analysis of the evolutionary history of these patterns shows that they can change and disappear in a relatively short time.
Are leopards dangerous?
The leopard is a hazardous animal, and humans do not want to come into contact with one in the nature.
The leopard can kill and eat human beings from time to time. Most of the time, they will flee before human presence; however, if they feel that they are in danger, they can be fatal to humans. Sometimes he confuses them with prey.
Some studies show that when their natural food sources are difficult to get, the leopard can start hunting people in villages or areas close to their surroundings. Once they do, they will inevitably repeat it, as they prefer it to their natural food sources, and this can result in a severe problem.
How fast can they run? Are they fast?
The maximum speed leopards can reach 40 miles or 64 kilometers per hour, but they can only maintain it for short periods.
Are leopards cats?
That is right. They are mammals belonging to the family Felidae, and there are about 37 species of cats including among others: cheetah, jaguar, lion, lynx, tiger and a domestic cat.
They come from almost all regions of the Earth, except Australia and Antarctica.
How do they hunt?
The leopard will not miss a single opportunity when it comes to hunting; many experts believe this explains why they have been able to survive for millions of years.
Hunting usually takes place from dusk to dawn; however, they can be seen foraging for food during daylight hours. When that happens, it is an indicator that food is becoming scarce in its habitat.
They are silent harassers and can wait for long periods before rushing over the prey. They can identify the behavior of the animals, such as when they are going to move, or when they arrive at water sources to drink, they use these movements to increase their chances of success with hunting.
They are capable of taking prey up to three times bigger than themselves, they only need a quick bite on the neck, and the hunt will be a success.