Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

Leopard Facts


Common Name: Leopard

Family: Felidae

Genus: Panthera

Species: pardus

Panthera pardus pardus Africa
Panthera pardus nimr Arabia
Panthera pardus saxicolor : Central Asia
Panthera pardus melas : Java
Panthera pardus kotiya : Sri Lanka
Panthera pardus fusca : Indian sub-continent
Panthera pardus delacourii : Southeast Asia
Panthera pardus japonensis : Northern China
Panthera pardus orientalis : Russian Far East, Korean peninsula and Northeastern China

Size: Averages 28 inches at the shoulder with a general range of 17.5 – 30.5 inches high at the shoulder. It’s the smallest of the big cats, which include tigers, lions, and jaguars.

Weight: Males generally weigh 80-150 lbs. Females weigh 62.5 – 100 lbs.

Coat: Varying colors of yellow with rosette markings. Melanistic (black) leopards also exist but are far fewer in number.

Habitats: Forest, subtropical and tropical, savanna, grassland, rocky and mountainous regions, and desert. The leopard can live in both warm and cold climates.

Diet: Carnivore – Giant eland, kudu, springbok, bushbuck, impalas, Thomson’s gazelles, duiker, primates, warthogs, guinea fowl, hares, rodents, fish, dung beetles. The leopard is capable of killing prey larger than itself.

Geography: The range of leopards is the most widespread of the big cats, covering a large stretch of Africa, parts of the Middle East, and Asia, including China, India, and eastern Russia.

Population Health: Near Threatened (according to IUCN)

Threats: Humans – Urban expansion results in habitat loss and a decrease in food sources. Leopards are also hunted for their valuable fur and to prevent livestock loss.

Additional Facts:

    The animal’s name derives from the Greek word leopardus, a combination of leon (lion) and pardus (panther).
    Of the big cats, the leopard is the only known species that lives in both desert and rainforest habitats.
    Leopards are generally nocturnal and do most of their hunting at night. Their large eyes and dilated pupils allow them to see well in dark conditions.
    Leopards are incredibly athletic and known for their climbing ability. They often carry food into trees to avoid losing it to scavengers like lions and hyenas.
    They tend to be solitary animals and rarely interact with each other except to mate or raise cubs.
    Leopards breed perennially with a gestation period of approximately 3 months, giving birth to a litter of 2-3 cubs on average.
    Despite their names, the clouded leopard (neofelis nebulosa) and snow leopard (panthera uncial) are often considered a separate species.
    One of the rarest subspecies of leopard is eastern Russia’s Amur Leopard. There are only an estimated 30 currently living in the wild.
    Leopards can go for long periods of time without water, living off the moisture of their prey.
    Leopards mark their territory with urine and claw marks on the bark of trees.
    Rudyard Kipling wrote the short story, How the Leopard Got Its Spots, to offer his own fictional explanation for the big cat’s attractive coat.


PBS is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization.