Leopard is a medium sized cat with different colors ranging from pale yellow to creamy and chestnut. Leopard is among those members of the Cat Family(Felidae) that are capable to climb trees easily. Being carnivorous (meat-eating) land mammals, leopards are naturally built to hunt other animals and they have the habit of dragging their hunt up the trees to keep it safe from the other carnivores. Leopards are extremely adaptable to their environment due to which they are found in locations that vary greatly both in climate and geography. Leopards can be found anywhere, in snow capped mountains, deep dense jungles, grassland and in deserts too. Do you find leopards interesting? We have gathered complete set of leopard facts for kids to let you know all about leopards.
Leopard Facts for Kids
- The scientific name of Leopard is Panthera pardus
- Leopards are found in wide variety of colors that range from pale yellow to creamy to deep gold, gray and chestnut. Melanistic leopards are black as they tend to develop dark-colored pigment melanin in the skin and are often called black panthers. On the other hand the snow leopard has a white fur.
- Their lightly colored fur have unique dark spots called rosettes which are marked on their shoulders, upper arms, back and the thighs. These spots are called rosettes because they match the shape of a rose, Black leopards also have rosettes but they are hardly visible because of the dark colored fur. The rosettes are square in shape in the leopards found in the southern Africa and are circular in shape in the leopards found in Eastern Africa.
- The head, chest and throat of the leopard carries small black spots while the white belly is covered with large black spots.
- The Leopard’s color and the rosettes patterns help them to camouflage as they match well with their habitat.
- Leopards that live in deserts have more pale color that match with the desert environment.
- One unique feature of the leopard is that the length of its tail is equal to the length of its body. This feature enables it keep up its balance in any terrain and make quick sharp turns when hunting.
- Being member of the big cat family, Leopards are built for kill. They got a broad head with long powerful bodies and legs that are relatively short.
- The shoulder height of Leopards range from 1.5 to 2.6 feet. Their length ranges from 3 to 6 feet. The tail length ranges from 2 to 3.5 feet .
- Male leopards weight ranges from 82 to 200 pounds while the female leopards are slightly lighter.
- They are expert climbers and can climb any tree very easily taking their prey along with them.
- They can also swim.
- Leopards are very agile which means that they move and take action quickly and easily.
- Their top speed is 58 km/h.
- They got strong legs which enable them to take a 6 meter leap horizontally and 3 meter jump vertically.
- Leopards have a good sense of smell which help them in locating the prey and keeping out of the territories of other leopards which are marked by the urine.
Behavior of Leopard
- Like tigers, leopards are solitary animals which means that they like to live alone.
- Leopards hunt at night and during the day they rest by hiding in caves or camouflage in the trees.
- One unique behavior of Leopards is that they tend to take their prey up in the trees to keep it safe from scavengers such as lions and hyenas.
- Leopards are very hard to track as they are very secretive among the big cats. It is very difficult to find them and trace their location in the wild.
- Leopards like to live alone in their individual large territories and does not tolerate any intrusion by another leopard. The territories of the male leopard are larger than the female leopards. Leopards use their urine, poop and claw marks on trees to mark their territories and to warn other leopards to stay out. The male and female territories often overlap each other and intrusion into territories is only allowed for mating purposes.
- Leopards have their own way of communication. Just like domestic cats they growl when they are angry and purr when they are happy. They also make a cough like sound in order to tell other leopards about their presence.
- The mother leopards are responsible for their kids alone. The mothers not only keep them safe but also hunt food for them. The mother teach their cubs, how to hunt and how keep themselves safe from predators. They also teach them how to climb trees and swim in the water.
Hunting – How Leopard Hunts?
- Leopards move very secretly keeping themselves close to the ground when they are approaching their prey. They are experts in keeping a low profile and can get very close to its prey without being noticed.
- Leopards are very successful hunters among the big cats. They approach their prey with bent legs and keeping their head low, so that the prey cannot see them.They attack when they are 5 to 10 meters near to the prey. They take down the prey quietly by getting hold of the throat or neck with their mouth. It uses its paw to hit prey that are small in size.
- Their ability to camouflage in the trees make them hardly visible in the leaves, which provides them the opportunity to keep an eye on their prey from the tree and jump over it when it gets near.
- Leopards are expert swimmers and are as agile in water as they are on land. This ability enable them to hunt for fish or crabs when they like to eat them.
- As mother leopards teach their cubs to hunt, the cubs start hunting small animals as they grow up.
- An amazing leopard fact is that they can move around in peace among a herd of antelope when they are not hungry and do not want to hunt them. They do this by using a no hunting signal which is flipping of their tail over their back. The antelopes recognize this signal and do not feel threatened when the leopard is wandering close to them.
- Leopards never leave their prey behind for the scavengers. It drags it up high in the tree to keep it safe for days and eat it later on when it is hungry.
Range and Distribution of Leopards
- Among the wild cats, Leopards have the largest distribution due to its adaptability. They are found almost throughout Africa and have survived in the habitats where the other big cats have disappeared. They are also found in Asia but are in small fragments in Southwest and Central Asia, endangered in the Northeast Asia, but are relatively abundant in the Southeast Asia.
- Due to their highly adaptive nature, Leopards are found in a wide variety of habitat as compared to the other big cats. Their habitat includes dense forests, savanna, mountains, grasslands, woodlands, temperate forests and desert.
- Leopards have successfully survived in the extremes from hot deserts to the snow capped Himalayas mountains, where no other cat can possibly survive.
- Among the various habitats, Leopards love to live in rocky landscapes that have dense bushes in abundance and in forests with rivers.
- Leopards tend to live in areas where healthy prey is available in abundance and there is enough vegetation where they can hide to hunt. Such habitat is very necessary for their prolonged survival.
Leopard Diet – What do Leopard Eat?
- Leopards are carnivores that is they eat meat.
- They have a wide range of diet when compared to the other big cats. They would eat anything from the smallest dung beetles to the largest common elands.
- However, mostly their prey are medium sized animals that weigh in the range 20 kg to 80 kg.
- Leopards prey mainly consists of ungulates, primates, rodents, reptiles, amphibians, insects, fish and birds. Sometimes they would even go for other carnivores such as fox, jackal and other smaller wild cats. They may also go for a crocodile, chimpanzees and gorillas when they desperately need some ting to eat, but such animals are mostly avoided as they can harm the leopards while defending them.
- Leopards of Africa love to hunt antelopes, impala, gazelles, monkeys, baboons hares, hyraxes and warthogs.
- Leopards mate all year round depending on their geographical location.
- The gestation period is 90 to 105 days.
- Females give birth in den which is made in a cave, below a huge rock, in a big hollow tree, or in dense bushes or small trees.
- One to six cubs are born per litter.
- The average number of cubs born are two or three per litter.
- The average weight of the new born cubs is about a pound.
- The cubs stay with their mother for 1.5 to 2 years.
- The cubs feed on their mother’s milk for 90 days.
- The mother keep hiding the little ones till they are 2 month old in order to protect them from other carnivores.
- The cubs mostly have gray coat of fur with light colored spots.
- The survival rate of cubs is 50% during their first year of life.
- Leopards live for an average period of 12 to 17 years.
- The longest living leopard was of 24 years but it was in captivity.
- In Africa the leopards have been declared as threatened species.
- In the rest of the world, Leopards have been declared as endangered species.
- Destruction of their natural habitat by humans settlement is a big threat to the existence of leopards.
- Leopards are also hunted by humans for their fur and this has reduced the population of the leopards significantly over the last 100 years.