Well, can you count the spots on a leopard? No. You can not put a number. Every leopard has a different number of spots on their fur. The spots also vary in shapes and sizes from leopard to leopard. Do you know that these spots on leopard skin are called ‘rosettes’? Why? If you observe them carefully, they look like tiny roses! These rosettes are used by wildlife scientists to differentiate between leopards.
Leopard belongs to the cat family. Yes! the same family to which a domestic cat also belongs to. A member of this family is called a felid. A lynx, ocelot, cheetah, cougar are all felids. Leopard belongs to one of the four ‘Big cats’ – a term used to distinguish larger felids from smaller ones. Big cats are tiger, lion, leopard jaguar.
Leopards are about 2 ft tall and 4-6 ft long. Do you know that a leopard’s tail is almost as long as its body? The long tail helps the leopard to take sharp turns quickly.
Leopards like to live on the trees. Leopards are champion athletes. They are excellent swimmers and swift runners. They can run up to 57 Km per hour. They can take leaps as big as 20 feet and can jump up to 10 feet high. Leopards are extremely powerful and can lift a prey, six times of their body weight on to a tree to enjoy their meal.
Leopards are solitary animals. They don’t move around with their large group of friends. Does that make them sad? Not at all! They like to be all by themselves. So you see, it is not necessary to have a bunch of friends hanging around you always. You can just be by yourself and be happy!!
Leopards hunt stealthily by hiding in a bush or a tree. They focus on small herds moving in a dense habitat as their spotted coat provides them a perfect camouflage. They target their prey and pounce on it when it is at a reasonable distance. Almost every time their attack results in a kill. If somehow the target escapes, then lucky for it since leopards don’t like to chase their prey. Their favourite food includes deer, antelopes, gazelles and impalas. Leopards often hide their food from other animals like hyenas and vultures in the tree or in bushes. They return to it when hungry. Does it not sound familiar? You hiding your candies, chocolates from your sibling only to get back to it later? Ha! Life in the jungle is not all that different ;)
Leopards are creatures of the night. They are nocturnal. Nicely camouflaged in a tree or a bush, daytime is for snoozing. This is why probably leopards are very difficult to spot.
A male leopard is a leopard while a female leopard is a leopardess. Their babies are called cubs. The cubs stay with their mothers until 2 years of age in which they learn to hunt and prey. Then they leave, ready to face the world. Wow! Can you ask your mother what all you could do when you were two years old? ;) Leopards live for about 15-20 years.
Did you know?
Black panther is a leopard with black spots on black fur!
Image Credit: Featured Image by Mitchell Fitzsimmons, from Flickr