Unusual features/differences from similar
More powerful body thancheetah and
serval. Skin has black
spots forming rosettes on the flanks, hips and shoulders. The cheetah
has single spots and the serval has spots
Visible Male/Female Differences
Males are larger than females. Females have two pairs of nipples on the belly.
Habitat and Distribution
Extensive habitat; usually associated with broken rocky country or forests, and
dependent on good cover for shelter and hunting. Not dependent on water. Does
not occur in true dessert. Even lives in or near towns and cities.
A large variety of vertebrate prey from mice to large antelope and baby giraffe, including hares, dassies, primates, small carnivores, porcupines, birds, reptiles
and fish. Main prey are
medium-sized antelope such as impala and springbok.
Also eats fruit and scavenges.
Litters of 1-6 cubs are born after a gestation of 100 days. Cub mortality is sometimes more than 50%.
The cub's eyes
open at 6 days and they are weaned from 6-12 weeks. Independent at 18 months; sexually mature at 2-4
years. Cubs are
born in heavy cover, caves or holes in the ground. They first accompany their mother on
hunts at four months, and make their first kills at five months. Leopard cubs are killed by
lions and spotted
Behavior and Habits
Both sexes are solitary and territorial. Most active at night, but may be seen during the
day especially when it is overcast. Rests in thick cover, in caves or in trees with dense canopies.
They use the
classical feline hunting technique: a stalk, a rush and a pounce on the prey and a killing
bite to the back of the skull a suffocating hold or the throat for larger prey. The guts of larger prey
pulled out and sometimes covered with soil. Leopards also cover carcasses
with soil, litter or branches or taken
into trees to avoid other scavengers. Leopards have no problem eating rotten and
they will feed on a carcass for up to 4 days. The fur of mammals and feathers of
birds are plucked before eating the prey. Male territories can be up to 400 square km
and overlap up to six female territories. Territorial
males have priority of access to females. Both sexes spray urine to mark territories.
A sawing rasp is the most distinctive call. Females give more strokes per call
and more calls per calling period, and have longer pauses between calls, and longer
calling periods. Most calling occurs in the early evening and in the dry season. Also
growls, spits and snarls in aggressive interactions.
Dung is 6-13cm long with tapered ends. Contains hair and bone fragments. Scrapes on the
ground. Often left exposed sometimes in prominent places. Carcasses stashed in trees, feathers and fur plucked from kills.
marks on bark.