Tuesday, 24 May 2011
Leopards are part of the cat family, Felidae. The scientific name for a leopard is Panthera pardus.
Leopards are well known for their cream and gold spotted fur, but some leopards have black fur with dark spots. These black leopards are often mistaken for panthers. Adult leopards are solitary animals. Each adult leopard has its own territory where it lives and, although they often share parts of it, they try to avoid one another.
A leopard’s body is built for hunting. They have sleek, powerful bodies and can run at speeds of up to 57 kilometres per hour. They are also excellent swimmers and climbers and can leap and jump long distances.
A leopard’s tail is just about as long as its entire body. This helps it with balance and enables it to make sharp turns quickly. Leopards are mostly nocturnal, hunting prey at night.
Leopards protect their food from other animals by dragging it high up into the trees. A leopard will often leave their prey up in the tree for days and return only when they are hungry! Female leopards give birth to a little of two or three cubs at a time. By the time a cub is two years old it will leave the company of its mother and live on their own.
When a female leopard is ready to mate she will give a scent and rub her body on the trees to leave her smell there. Male leopards either smell the females scent or hear her call to know that she is ready to mate.
Some people believe that the bones and whiskers of leopards can heal sick people. Many leopards are killed each year for their fur and body parts and this is one reason why the leopard is an endangered animal. While they were previously found in the wild in a number of areas around the world, their habitat is largely restricted to sub-Saharan Africa with small numbers also found in India, Pakistan, Malaysia, China and Indochina.
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