Leopards are a member of the cat family with a beautiful spotted pattern called a “leopard print.
Leopards are as strong and good-looking as lions and tigers, which are also members of the same feline family, and are one of the most popular animals in zoos.
By the way, why do leopards have such a flashy pattern?
Let’s take a sneak peek at what characteristics and secrets leopards have!
～ Basic information. ～
Male：length 91～191cm weight 37～90Kg
Female：length 91～191cm weight 28～60Kg
The main habitats of leopards are Africa and India, and China.
Leopards really live in many different places. For example, it has a wide range of habitats, from arid regions such as the African savannah to the damp jungles of Southeast Asia and the very cold snowy fields of Russia.
Unlike lions, leopards do not form flocks and live alone. During the breeding season, males and females work together, but only females raise their children.
Leopard hunting is a creeping type, and when it finds its prey, it sneaks up on it like a ninja and kills it all at once. Leopards are very good at climbing trees, so they sometimes jump on their prey from the top of the tree and catch it.
Why are leopards leopard print?
The “rosette” or “leopard print” on the leopard’s body, which looks like rose or plum blossom spots, looks very flashy.
However, many animals (especially herbivores) cannot distinguish many colors like humans, so the leopard pattern is a protective color and does not stand out at all in deep bushes or on trees.
Therefore, the leopard pattern is very useful in many situations, such as hunting or running away from enemies.
Leopards are good at hiding and obliterating signs, so it is said to be very difficult to seriously find a hidden leopard.
Why are black leopards black?
The black leopard, which is completely black all over, is actually the exact same kind of animal as a regular leopard.
Black leopards have a mutated body color that is black, but depending on the light, you can see the same mottled pattern as regular leopards. An animal that has turned black, unlike its original color, is called a “black variant.”
All types of leopards can become black leopards, but it is known that black leopards are more common in humid Southeast Asia.
We still don’t know exactly why mutations cause the body to turn black, or what the benefits of turning black are.
What do wild leopards eat?
African leopards catch and eat Thomson gazelles, impalas, monkey friends and warthogs.
On the other hand, Asian leopards mainly eat deer and rabbits. Either way, they tend to target and catch slightly smaller animals instead of larger ones.
By the way, in addition to the prey they catch themselves, they also find and eat rotten and maggot-covered meat.
What do the leopards at the zoo eat?
Japanese zoos feed leopards with meat from cows, horses, and chickens.
However, meat processed for human consumption has had its blood and internal organs removed and lacks the nutrients necessary to make a leopard body. For this reason, zoos sprinkle vitamins on the meat to help balance the nutrition.
Some zoos have events where you can feed leopards. If you are able to attend the event, observe how the leopard eats meat and what the leopard’s mouth looks like.
Is it true that leopards are good at climbing trees?
Leopards are said to be the best tree climbers in the large cat family, and they often rest in safe trees during the day. Then, in the dimly lit early morning or evening, they descend to the ground and search for prey to hunt.
Leopards are also known for their habit of carrying their prey to the trees and eating and storing it there. By carrying their prey to the trees, they can eat slowly without being intercepted by tigers, lions, or hyenas.
Leopards are nocturnal, active at night, but they also act in the early morning and evening when it is dimly lit around them.
Why does a leopard have a thick tail?
The leopard’s tail is very thick and long, sometimes as long as a meter. The thick tail is useful for balancing the body when climbing trees or hunting, which is his specialty.
When climbing trees or jumping on prey, leopards use their tails to quickly position themselves.
What is the difference between a leopard and a jaguar?
An animal similar to the leopard is the same large feline, the “jaguar.”
Jaguars are animals that live from North America to South America, and their bodies have a mottled pattern similar to that of leopards. Leopards and jaguars are difficult to distinguish at a quick glance, but if you want to distinguish them, pay attention to the mottled pattern.
The spot pattern on the jaguar is larger than the leopard and if you look closely there are black dots in the pattern. Jaguars also have a larger head and slightly shorter limbs than leopards, and are generally more stout.
If you go to the zoo and compare the actual leopard and jaguar, you may be able to distinguish them more and more.
What enemies do leopards have?
Leopards are very strong animals, but they have many natural enemies. Their natural enemies are lions, tigers, and other large animals. Lions and tigers may intercept the prey they have caught, or they may even eat the leopard’s children.
Hyenas that live in packs are also one of the leopard’s natural enemies, and sometimes they are intercepted or fight over their prey. They can also be hit back by herbivores, which are their prey, and can cause serious injury.
However, the biggest enemy of the leopards is us humans. We caught a lot of leopards to turn their pretty fur into clothes and rugs. We also cut through the forest where leopards live, reducing the number of places where leopards can live.
And the Amur leopard, which is one of the largest leopards in the world and lives in the northernmost parts of the world (Russia and China), is now only 30 to 40 leopards, and there are concerns that they will become extinct. Right now, people all over the world are working together to protect the forests where Amur leopards and Amur leopards live.
※What is extinction?
When all of one type of animal dies and disappears from the earth, it is called “extinction. As for Japanese animals, Japanese wolves and Japanese sea lions are known as extinct species.
Type of leopard.
・North China Leopard
・Sri Lanka Leopard
・Zanzibar leopard（Extinct species）etc.
※Since the classification differs from researcher to researcher, only some types are listed.