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Leopards can jump the highest and the farthest of the terrestrial land mammals. Humans rarely see leopards because their markings blend into their environment. Their color and the length of their fur vary depending on the climate. The leopard is tawny yellow, white underneath, and has black spots on most of its body.
Solitary cats, leopards have excellent hearing and eyesight and can see at night six times better than humans can. This aids them in their nocturnal hunting.
Leopards often wait in trees for prey, but they can also silently stalk to within a few feet and attack. They feed on deer, birds, monkeys, antelopes, domestic livestock, and sometimes humans. When they make a kill, they’ll drag it up a tree to protect it from other predators.
Leopards are able to adapt very well to a variety of habitats including forests, swamps, grasslands, and mountainous regions. They live in Africa, south of the Sahara, and southern Asia.
The males are generally larger than the females. Leopards, like all members of the cat family, mark their territory by urinating and scratching the bark on certain trees in their range.
After a gestation period of three months, a female usually bears between two and four cubs. While the cubs are small, the mother will carry them to a new hiding place every few days to help keep them from harm. They will stay with their mother for about two years.
Leopards have been hunted for years for their beautiful coat. In the 1960s, nearly 50,000 leopards were killed. Today the leopard is protected, but it is hunted still because of its attacks on livestock. However, farmers have recognized the leopard’s usefulness in controlling some pests such as baboons, bush pigs, and rats, which do great damage to crops.
Carnivora • Felidae • Panthera pardas
Weight: 80–100 pounds (36–45 kg)
Length: 8 feet (2.5 m)
Life Span: 12 years
Special Design Feature: The leopard has excellent hearing and eyesight. They can see six times better than humans at night.
Did You Know? Leopards can jump the highest of all the land animals—18 feet (5.5 m)!