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Leopard image
Leopard

Leopard

(Mammal)

Leopard Baby
Leopard Baby

Leopard Habits

Except for a brief time during mating and when the female is rearing her young, the leopard leads a solitary life within a defined territory. Like other members of the cat family, the leopard marks its territory with urine. It will also shred the bark of particular trees within its territory. In areas rich in game, territories are smaller than in those areas that have less prey. The territories of males are usually larger than those of females and will often overlap several females' territories. However, males never share portions of their territories.
The leopard has been hunted for its pelt for many years. In the early 1960s, leopard poaching reached an all-time high when an estimated 50,000 leopards were killed in East Africa. Today the leopard is a protected species, but it is still hunted by herdsman, shepherds, and poachers. But it is recognized by farmers as having a useful function: it controls such animals as baboons and bush pigs that damage crops.

Leopard Communication

Leopards communicate by roaring and by scent. Their roaring sounds like a person sawing through a very rough piece of wood. Roaring can define their territories or signal that they are alarmed. Leopards also purr and meow similar to domestic cats, but normally only between mother and cubs. Scent marking is done using an anal gland similar to other cats. Marks are sprayed on bushes or trees on or near the leopards territorial boundary. They claw at the tree, sharpening their claws, and then spray urine on the tree to mark it.

Leopard Breeding

Male and female leopards come together to breed for only 6-7 days when the female is in heat. The male is drawn to her by the strong smell of urine she sprays on trees during this time. Leopard After mating, the male returns to his territory, leaving the female to give birth and care for the young alone. The birth takes place in a hidden lair after a gestation period of 3 months. If the female carried her young for a longer period of time, it would restrict her ability to hunt, preventing her from killing enough food for herself and her cubs. But the short gestation period means that the cubs are born underdeveloped; they are helpless and weigh only 15-20 ounces. While the cubs are still small, their mother carries them to a new hiding place every few days to lessen their chance of falling prey to lions, hyenas, or even male leopards. At this stage in their growth, the spots on their coats are so dense that they appear to be solid gray. Their milky blue eyes, characteristic of the young of all species of cat, open after 9 days. The cubs generally stay with their mother for 2 years.

Leopard Food & Feeding

The leopard usually hunts at dawn or dusk. After waiting silently among the brush or in a tree, the leopard ambushes its prey. The leopard kills by biting its prey on the throat or the back of the neck. It will then take its kill, which may be as heavy as itself, up into a tall tree, lodging it in the branches. Here it is safely stored beyond the reach of scavengers such as hyenas and jackals. After eating, the leopard usually visits a water hole to drink. The leopard eats a wide range of animals, from baboons, warthogs, and medium-sized antelopes to small mammals and birds. Individual leopards will sometimes develop a preference for particular types of food. It is thought that man-eating leopards, which are rare, develop a liking for human flesh after they have tasted it once.

Leopard Key Facts

        Size 
              Height: Length: 40-50 in. from head to end of back
              Weight: 80-175 pounds
       Breeding
             Sexual maturity: 2-3 years
             Mating: Year-round in tropics, seasonal in other areas
             Gestation: 90-112 days
             Number of young: 2-3 cubs, occasionally up to 6
       Lifestyle 
            Habit: Solitary
            Diet: Mammals and birds
            Lifespan: 12 years in the wild

 

DID YOU KNOW?

  • The range of a leopard's hearing is twice that of a human's, and, in dim light, its sight is six times better.
  • The leopard likes to drink daily but can go for as long as a month without water.
  • Leopards have a highly developed homing instinct. A group found wandering in a suburb of Nairobi was captured and released in the Tsavo National Park, 200 miles away. Within a few weeks, the leopards found their way back to Nairobi.
  • Black leopards, called black panthers, were once regarded as a separate species, but they are now considered true leopards. Although they are black, their rosettes of spots are still faintly visible.
  • Like cats kept as companions, leopards will growl when angry and purr when content.

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