Leopard Facts
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18 Leopard Facts From Amazing Leaps To Survival And Protection

Leopards are large cats known for their conspicuous spotted fur and ferocious hunting skills. They are very territorial and tend to avoid other leopards. As our leopard facts show, while leopards are one of the most beautiful cats in the Genus Panthera family, they can also become quite dangerous and are increasingly endangered.

We can also find Leopards across the broadest geographic range of all the big cats. Across many African and Asian countries, leopards live in subcontinents like Sub-Saharan Africa, Northeast Africa, Central Asia, East Asia, etc. 

Leopards are fascinating to look at, from their beautiful and bold spotted fur to their strong hunting, climbing, and swimming skills. 

Read on as we plunge into the fascinating world of leopards to discover some fantastic leopard facts.

Related: You can also check out our compilation of leopard quotes to see what other people have to say about these amazing big cats. 

General leopard facts 

Leopard on a tree
Photo by Bibake Uppal on Unsplash

1. Leopards are from the Genus Panthera cat family 

Leopards, or Panthera pardus, belong to the Panthera Genus. The entire Panthera genus comprises big cats, including the leopard, snow leopard, tiger, jaguar, and lion. Leopards are the smallest of the Panthera species, while tigers are the largest. We can primarily distinguish Panthera species for their anatomy, including powerful jaws, small heads, and large vocal folds that enable them to roar. Snow leopards are the only Panthera species that do not roar1

There are nine subspecies of leopards, including Panthera pardus Orientalis (Amur leopards), Panthera pardus pardus (African leopard), Panthera pardus nimr (Arabian leopard), and Panthera pardus saxicolor (Caucasian leopard, Central Asian leopard, Persian leopard). 

Related: for more from the big cat family, click on for our tiger facts and lion facts.

2. A group of leopards is known as a Leap 

We refer to a group of leopards as a leap or a prowl. Leopards are solitary, so a group typically consists of a mother and her cubs. Their group name comes from the leopard’s remarkable leaping abilities. Leopards can jump up to 10 feet and leap as high as 20 feet. This leaping ability helps leopards lay hold of their prey quickly. One such prey is the fast gazelle. 

3. Leopards are solitary animals 

Leopard fact solitary animal
Photo by Zac Dooley on Unsplash

You will typically find the leopard hunting and resting alone. They are also territorial and mark their territories using urine scent marks, poop, and claw marks on trees. They are solitary animals and will only come together to mate. The female leopards release pheromones when they are ready to mate. The male and female adult leopards then cross territories to mate. 

4. Leopards have a carnivorous diet 

Leopards are carnivorous animals. Leopards can eat a range of large to small prey, feeding on impalas, spotted deer, bamboo rats, monkeys, small birds, and so on. However, these big cats have a wide range of food they can eat and are not picky eaters. 

They can also prey on other carnivores, including cheetah cubs, foxes, jackals, etc. Leopards may also steal the kills of other animals like lions and hyenas. These large cats absorb moisture from their food and can go days without water. In the Kalahari desert, leopards feed on moisture-filled plants like watermelons and succulents. 

5. Leopards have distinctive dark spots 

One unique characteristic of the leopard is its beautiful dark spots. Most leopards have light-colored skin and dark spots on their fur. These spots are called rosettes because of their rose-like shape. The spots are circular-shaped in Eastern African leopards and square-shaped in Southern Africa.

The leopard’s spots provide excellent camouflage against predators in the wild and help it hide undetected from its prey. It also has black markings behind its ears and at the tip of its tails to communicate with other leopards in tall grass.  

Black leopards, commonly called black panthers, have a solid black color and dark fur, making it difficult to notice their spots.  

6. Leopards are incredible climbers 

Leopards are known for their strength and incredible climbing skills3. These big cats love to spend time resting on trees during the day. They stay on branches of trees to hide from predators and prevent other animals from stealing their kill. Thanks to their strong jaws and huge skulls, leopards can skillfully climb trees with their heavy prey thanks to their strong jaws and huge skulls. 

7. Leopards are strong swimmers 

Besides being incredible climbers, leopards are among the few cats with strong swimming abilities. Leopards are comfortable around the water and might eat fish, crabs, and other sea animals. 

8. Leopards can breed with other big cat species

Leopards are typically aggressive toward other big cats. However, this big cat can also breed successfully with other cat species. Captive leopards can interbreed with lions - when the male lions interbreed with female leopards, they give birth to lipards.

On the other hand, when male leopards interbreed with female lions, they produce leopons. Leopards can also breed with other big cats like jaguars and pumas. 

9. Leopards will rarely attack humans

Unlike lions and tigers, leopards are less likely to attack humans and rarely feed on them. However, leopards may come into conflict with humans on a few occasions. 

What’s most disturbing about leopards is that because leopards are opportunistic feeders, they can scavenge human remains and may develop a preference for human meat, feeding exclusively on humans. 

In the early 20th century, a male leopard in Northern India caused at least 400 human deaths. 

10. Leopards are fantastic hunters

Leopard hunting
Photo by Bernd Dittrich on Unsplash

Another fact about leopards is that they are fantastic hunters. They have a strong sense of smell and sight, which they use to track their prey. 

These ambush predators can stalk their prey undetected and then pounce on them. Then, the leopard dashes forward, grappling their prey’s neck and strangling them with their large teeth and strong jaws. A few leopard populations can jump from tree branches to attack their prey. 

11. Leopards mate more during the rainy season

Typically, leopards don’t choose a mate for life; rather, they can mate with multiple partners throughout their lifetime. While leopards breed anytime in the year, they mate more during the rainy season. 

The female leopards attract potential male leopards by releasing pheromones in their urine. They move back and forth in front of the male leopard, brushing up against him with her tail. 

The male leopard mounts the female, biting her nape at intervals. 

The copulation lasts only about three seconds, with a six-minute interval between copulation periods. The two leopards can copulate up to 100 times in a day across several days4

12. Leopards tend to give birth to two or three cubs

Females can give birth at any time of the year. After a gestation period of 96 days, the female leopard gives birth to two or three leopard cubs. These leopard cubs weigh less than 1kg and will have their eyes shut for the first week. 

The female leopards protect their young by hiding them in rocks, dense thickets, bushes, old aardvark holes, and trees to keep them safe while hunting and feeding. Mothers wean their cubs completely at three months, and young leopards become independent around 20 months.  

13. Leopards communicate using different sounds 

Leopards communicate in different ways. Typically, they bark and may even roar like other cat family members. In the presence of other males, these creatures make grunts similar to sawing wood. When angry, they spit and growl; when happy, they make purrs and meows, similar to domestic cats. 

14. Leopards are nocturnal animals 

Leopards are nocturnal, which means they are more active at night. Their big eyes and dilating pupils give them good vision to hunt in the dark. They stalk animals like antelopes and deer in the dark, killing them and hiding their prey in trees. During the day, leopards rest and camouflage in trees or caves. 

Environmental leopard facts 

Leopard cage - facing extinction
Photo by Nick R on Unsplash

15. Leopard subspecies are on a steady decline 

Sadly, these beautiful creatures risk extinction due to various activities2, including habitat loss, large predators, and human conflict. 

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, most leopard subspecies range from vulnerable to critically endangered species. 

16. Humans hunt down leopards for fashion and medicine 

People associate Leopard prints with different mythologies that signify wealth and importance. Perhaps one of the more concerning facts about leopards is that because of their fur patterns, human beings hunt them down, using their furs to make coats and other ornamental pieces. Farmers also hunt them down to protect their livestock. Poachers also kill leopards to make traditional medicine. 

17. Leopards have fierce competition in the wild 

Leopards have a wide range of habitats; we can find them in deserts, shrublands, moist forests, etc. However, these leopard habitats clash with other predators, causing competition in these territories. Some of these predators include tigers, cheetahs, and hyenas. When resources become scarce, these animals could kill leopard cubs and steal prey from tree branches. 

18. The rarest subspecies of leopard in the world is the Amur Leopard 

We can find Amur leopards in forested regions that span areas of Russia, the Far East, and China. These leopards have a much paler coat and dark, wide-spaced spots than others. Sadly, the Amur leopard is critically endangered and is one of the rarest big cats in the world.  Thankfully, conservation organizations are working to save these species. 

Leopard vs. Cheetah vs. Jaguar

Leopards share similarities with cheetahs and jaguars because of their coat color and spots. However, their size, geography, behavior, and spot patterns differ. 

Leopards occupy regions in Africa and Asia, from Sub-saharan Africa to regions in East Asia, European Russia, and Southeast Asia. Cheetahs only inhabit Africa and Iran, while we can find jaguars in Central and South America. 

Jaguars have different hunting behavior. They crush the skull of their prey with their powerful jaws, while leopards target the neck of their prey, suffocating them to death. Leopards are also better climbers and can carry their prey up the tree much faster than jaguars. 

Cheetahs are much faster than leopards and have different physical features. One noticeable difference is their spot pattern. While leopards have rosettes, cheetahs have oval or solid spots.

Read more: Leopard vs. Jaguar - Similarities And Differences Explained.


As these leopard facts show, these amazing and beautiful creatures are scattered across different parts of the world. Their hunting skills and prominent physical features make them fascinating to watch. However, leopards are on the brink of extinction. Thankfully, you can play your part in saving them from extinction by supporting conservation organizations and avoiding clothes and ornaments made of leopard skin.

Related: To further explore the animal kingdom, check out some of the other animals that start with L.


Chauhan, A., & Kumar, S. (2021). Snow Leopard As Charismatic Carnivore In Higher Ranges Of Indian Himalyas: A Study Of Their Population, Distribution, Habitat, And Feeding Habitat (pdf). Ilkogretim Online20(2), 3196-3204.


Bhatt, S., Biswas, S., Karanth, K., Pandav, B., & Mondol, S. (2020). Genetic analyses reveal population structure and recent decline in leopards (Panthera pardus fusca) across the Indian subcontinentPeerJ8, e8482.


Tarugara, A., Clegg, B. W., Gandiwa, E., & Muposhi, V. K. (2021). The effect of competing carnivores on the feeding behaviour of leopards (Panthera pardus) in an African savannaEcology and Evolution11(12), 7743-7753.


Hunt, A. 2011. "Panthera pardus" leopard (On-line), Animal Diversity Web 

Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.

Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.

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