Leopard is one of the most fierce creatures in jungle. They are the part of big cat family, Felidae. Well hidden, ready to strike and enough strong to drag a large mammal, these mysterious cats create fear as well as fascination also. Curiosity is obvious, so let’s unwrap about them.
1. Leopard is called Panthera Pardus scientifically. They grow from 90-190 centimeters (3-6.2 feet ) long and the tail adds another 65-100 centimeters (25-40 inches) to their length. Females are much smaller, and they vary in weight also. Females typically weigh 20-60kgs (45-130 pounds), whereas males weigh around 35-75kgs (80-165 pounds). The average lifespan of Leopard is about 12-17 years.
These creatures have yellow or gold fur coat with distinctive black spots on it. These spots are known as Rosettes, as it look like roses. Sometimes these creatures get totally black, often known as Black Panther. The difference in color is not indicative of a separate sub species but, due to dark colored pigment melanin in the skin. Black leopards are seen infrequently in parts of Africa. In East Africa, the rosette patterns are more circular but, tend to be more square shaped in southern Africa. The yellow coat is paler in the desert regions.
3. Cats are renowned for their agility and reflexes, so do the Leopards. They can run at a speed of 60kms or 36 miles an hour and able to jump 20 feet (6 meters) horizontally or 10 feet (3 meters) vertically.
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Leopards are astoundingly strong. They are pound for pound the strongest of the big cats. This means if all the big cats were the same size and weight, the leopard would be the strongest. They can hunt Zebras, Buffaloes and other large mammals. Even they can drag their prey high up in the tree to avoid scavengers from snatching.
They are good climbers. They carry their meal and eat the meal on trees, even they rest on tree branches during the day. Swimming is also very handy for them as they can swim very fast and efficiently.
6. These predators are nocturnal. Their eyes are seven times more effective than human to see in complete darkness. So, they do hunt at night ambushing silently.
They are the most elusive and secretive of the large fields. They are extremely difficult to trace and locate in the wild due to their coat. A human can’t spot a Leopard hidden in bush without trained eyes.
8. Adults are solitary in nature. Each adult has it’s own territory where it lives. Although they often share parts of it, they try to avoid one another generally. Each leopard spends most of their life in own territory and to warn others they leave scratches on trees, and urine scent marks around their areas.
Their long thick tail provide agility and balance to body at times of speeding and jumping.
10. Females give birth of 2-3 cubs at a time. These cubs are born blind and are completely dependent on their mother. Their eyes open after ten or more days and for the first few months their eyes stay bright blue. They stay with their mother nearly 2 years, while learning hunting and surviving techniques.
11. These majestic creatures are least social and usually stay silent. Though, these cats make impressive sounds when necessary. Leopards use distinct unique calls to communicate with each other. Males do make a raspy cough sound to announce their presence and also growl in anger.
Their ears are capable of hearing five times more sounds that a human can. These small and rounded ears have black markings at the back, which act as a kind of ‘follow me’ sign. This makes it easier for cubs to follow behind mother in the tall grass.
Being carnivorous, they are not picky eaters.They eat fish, antelope, warthogs, monkeys, bugs, deer, rodents, and other animal that cone be tackled by them. In the wild males consume 3.5kgs. meat per day and females with cubs eat 4.9kgs. per day. Whereas in captivity, they eat 1-1.5kgs of meat a day.
14. Females are excellent mothers. They stay with their cubs until they are around two years. Females also leave her cubs in secret hideaways, in dense bush or up trees before she goes for hunt.
15. These cats are now listed as vulnerable on the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) Red List, with a continuous declining population. Human activities are affecting their habitat. They are also hunted for their beautiful coats.