Description: Leopards have an elongated body set on relatively short and stocky legs, broad paws and short rounded ears. There is a considerable difference in size between the male and female leopard, males being larger. Leopards can live to around 21 to 23 years in captivity, with estimates of about 7 to 9 years in the wild. They are listed as ‘near threatened’ on the IUCN Red List; however, in some areas they are endangered or even critically endangered.
Did you know...?
…that panthers are actually leopards with a genetic peculiarity called “melanism” (the opposite of albinism) responsible for their all black color? Because only one single recessive gene creates this peculiarity, panthers are rather rare.
Colouring: Their color varies from light tawny to deep rusty yellow, with a lighter underside. They have dark spots on their face, head, throat, chest, and legs. The rest of their body is covered in “rosettes”. Leopards can also be totally black.
Diet: The leopard is a carnivore and hunts anything it can overpower including pigs, deer, and monkeys. It hunts day and night using stealth and surprise to trap prey. Leopards living closer to human settlements tend to be more nocturnal. The leopard can drag dead prey items up into the trees to prevent them being stolen by other animals, or simply for storage.
Habitat: Leopards live mainly in grasslands, woodlands and riverside forests, but feel just as secure in swampy tropical forests and in rugged mountains.
Reproduction: There is no set mating season for leopards. The gestation period is between 92 and 112 days, resulting in a litter of 2 – 3 cubs, with birth weight of around 550g. Cubs don’t normally venture out of the nest until around 3 months old when they are weaned. Young leopards become independent at about 1.5 to 2 years of age and reach sexual maturity at around 3 years of age.