Cheetah Vs Leopard: Difference Between The Big Wild Cats Revealed! | Kidadl


Cheetah Vs Leopard: Difference Between The Big Wild Cats Revealed!

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A cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) and a leopard (Panthera pardus) may appear near-identical at first glance for an untrained eye.

The most visible difference is the pattern of their coats. A cheetah has round-shaped spots while leopards have rosette-shaped spots.

Another basic difference is that these cats are two different animal species of the same family of Felidae. A cheetah is a member of the Acinonyx genus while a leopard is a member of the Panthera genus. If you have ever been to a jungle safari, you might have found it hard to spot cheetahs and leopards. Well, you're not alone.

These animals are difficult to tell apart because of their similar appearance. Therefore, we have discussed all the key differences between the two big cats to help you! Keep scrolling to know more.

You may also be interested in these learning more cheetah facts, and the difference between a cheetah vs jaguar.

Which is more dangerous cheetah or leopard?

A cheetah and a leopard are both dangerous wild animals in their own right. Nobody would want to casually pet a cheetah or a leopard's head, like domestic cats.

A cheetah is superior in terms of speed and stealth. The cheetah is the fastest land mammal. They can easily run at a speed of 74.5 mph (120 kph). They have a slender body for fast movement. A cheetah has a body length of 3.9-4.9 ft (120-150 cm), and its tail length is between 1.9-2.6 ft (60-80 cm).

A leopard is superior in terms of strength. They have a muscular and stocky build with short legs. A leopard runs at a speed of 36 mph (58 kph). A leopard has a body length of 3-6.3 ft (91.4-182.8 cm) with a tail length of 1.9-3.6 ft (58-110 cm). A leopard is a nocturnal hunter, meaning they hunt at night. Like most big cats, the leopard has retractable claws. Retractable claws help to protect the claws from damage when not hunting. A leopard hunts wild prey like birds, baboons, and hares.

A cheetah is a crepuscular hunter, meaning they hunt during the day. A cheetah has blunt, non-retractable claws. They help to increase traction while running. A cheetah preys on small animals like hares, rodents, and gazelles.

But if we relate how dangerous an animal is with its successful hunt rate, then the cheetah would be considered the most dangerous with a 58% successful hunt rate defeating the leopard's hunt rate of 38% successful kills.

What is the most common difference between a cheetah and a leopard?

A cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) and a leopard (Panthera pardus) are both big cats native to Sub-Saharan Africa and parts of Asia. A leopard and a cheetah come from the same family of Felidae. The Felidae family hosts 37 different cat species like pumas, lynx, jaguars, lions, domestic cats, and tigers.

Even though they come from the same family, a cheetah and a leopard are different species and have multiple differences among them.

The most common difference is the color of the fur and patterns on their coats. Patterns on animal coats allow them to survive in the wild. They act as camouflage against predators and also help to hide animals when hunting for prey.

Cheetahs have solid round black spots across their bodies. The color of a cheetah's fur ranges from golden-yellow to a light tan to even a grayish-white. They have a light undercoat which is usually white or a pale shade of their fur. On the other hand, leopards have black rosette-shaped patterns across their bodies. They are near identical to jaguars (Panthera onca) who also have black rosettes. The only small difference in their fur pattern is that leopards don't have a black center in their rosettes but jaguars do. A leopard is orange-brown in color with a cream-yellow belly which transitions to a faded white undercoat.

Cheetahs and leopards have different color eyes. A leopard's eyes are blue or green-hued while cheetahs tend to have dark brown eyes.

Their physical build is also visibly different. The body shape of an animal depends on its hunting style. It is common knowledge that cheetahs are known for their speed which is why they have a slender build and long legs built for speed. The average speed of a cheetah is 74.5 mph (120 kph). Cheetahs can easily outrun leopards. A leopard has an average speed of 36 mph (58 kph).

Leopards are ambush predators and built for strength. They have a stocky and muscular appearance. Their face shape is larger than a cheetah's with an elongated head and strong jaw. A cheetah has a small head with black tear marks (from the inner corner of eyes to the cheeks) which protects their eyesight from the sun's glare and helps to focus better.

Aside from these physical differences, a cheetah and a leopard have different habitats, hunting styles, litter, and prey appetites.

A cheetah prefers a habitat with open grasslands and bushy grasses since it makes it easier for a cheetah to stalk and hunt its prey. A cheetah today is primarily found in parts of South and East Africa but cheetahs were once native to most parts of Asia and South Africa. A smaller population of cheetahs is also found in Iran and North Africa. This big cat is classified as an endangered species.

A leopard can live in a diverse range of habitats. Their habitat can range from the rainforests in Central Africa to deserts and semi-desert regions of southern Africa, to grasslands of East and southern Africa, to the mountain and arid regions. The leopard is also found in the urban parts of Sub-Saharan Africa. A leopard is also an endangered species.

Leopards are nocturnal hunters which means that they hunt at night rather than sleeping and spend most of their day resting in bushes or caves. Leopards prey on most animals like rodents, birds, baboons, and hares. Cheetahs are crepuscular hunters which means that they hunt during the day and sleep at night. Cheetahs prey on small animals like gazelles and hares.

A cheetah has an average lifespan of 10-12 years. A leopard has an average lifespan of 12-17 years. A female cheetah can give birth to three to five cheetah cubs in one litter while a female leopard can give birth to two to three leopard cubs in one litter.

Leopards have a rosette-shaped coat pattern without the black center.

Leopard relaxing..

Which is stronger a cheetah or a leopard?

Leopards are stronger than cheetahs. While cheetahs may be known for their speed and are the fastest land mammals, they cannot beat a leopard in terms of strength.

Leopards are larger and muscular with a heavy built. Cheetahs are more thin and slender. The difference in their body shape is because of the way they hunt. Cheetahs tend to leverage their speed while leopards are ambush hunters and tend to use their strength against prey.

An adult male cheetah weighs anywhere from 46.2- 158 lb (21-72 kg) and an adult male leopard weighs between 81.6–198.4 lb (37-92 kg). So, technically, a leopard can absolutely pin down a cheetah with its weight.

In fact, leopards are so strong that after a successful hunt, this wild cat climbs a tree with its prey (sometimes the prey can be three times the size of the leopard) to eat and avoid other big predators like lions or hyenas. Cheetahs cannot climb trees because they have dog-like non-retractable claws which act as a disadvantage when climbing trees.

Can a cheetah kill a leopard?

An adult cheetah can kill and eat a leopard cub but killing an adult leopard seems unlikely.

Leopards are larger and heavier than cheetahs. An average male leopard can weigh up to 200 lb (92 kgs) which is way more than the weight of the average male cheetah ranging from 46-158 lb (21-72 kgs).

Leopards are also muscular and stronger than the comparatively smaller and slender cheetah. Leopards see cheetahs as threats if they invade their territory and can even kill cheetahs if provoked.

Did you know that cheetahs can only purr (like domestic cats) and not roar? Leopards, despite being feline, cannot purr and can only roar!

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for Cheetah vs leopard: difference between the big wild cats revealed!, then why not take a look at Can dogs eat romaine lettuce? Can it be your dog's next healthy snack?, or Can chickens eat raisins? These dried grapes can be a healthy snack!

Written By
Aarushi Kapoor

<p>Bringing creativity and strong writing skills to the team, Aarushi is a literature enthusiast with a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Vivekananda Institute of Professional Studies. Her love for reading and writing poetry and prose is reflected in her work, adding depth and emotion to the content she creates. Aarushi values her free time and enjoys spending it in quiet contemplation.</p>

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