Leopards are big cats known for their golden, spotted bodies and graceful, yet ferocious hunting techniques. They are often thought of as an African animal, but leopards live all over the world. Though their reach is vast, their numbers are declining.
Learger than a house cat, leopards are the smallest members of the large cat category. They grow to only 3 to 6.2 feet (92 to 190 centimeters) long. Their tail adds another 25 to 39 inches (64 to 99 cm) to their length. Males and females vary in weight. Females typically weigh 46 to 132 pounds (21 to 60 kilograms) and males usually weigh around 80 to 165 lbs. (36 to 75 kg).
The leopard is very adaptable and can live in many different places across the globe. Leopards are found in sub-Saharan Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, southwestern and eastern Turkey, in the Sinai/Judean Desert of Southwest Asia, the Himalayan foothills, India, Russia, China and the islands of Java and Sri Lanka, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). These large cats can live in almost any type of habitat, including rainforests, deserts, woodlands, grassland savannas, forests, mountain habitats, coastal scrubs, shrub lands and swampy areas. In fact, leopards live in more places than any other large cat.
Leopards are solitary creatures that only spend time with others when they are mating or raising young. They are also nocturnal and spend their nights hunting instead of sleeping.
Leopards spend a lot of their time in trees. Their spotted coat camouflages them, making them blend in with the leaves of the tree. They will often drag their prey into trees to keep it from being taken by other animals.
Leopards are carnivores, but they aren’t picky eaters. They will prey on any animal that comes across their path, such as Thomson’s gazelles, cheetah cubs, baboons, rodents, monkeys, snakes, large birds, amphibians, fish, antelopes, warthogs and porcupines.