Difference Between a Leopard and a Cheetah
To the casual observer, leopards and cheetahs may seem to be close cousins or even the same species of cat. However, there are many key differences between leopards and cheetahs including their habitat, diet, hunting style, morphology, and vocalization.
- Cheetah ‘“ live in the level plains of Africa and southwestern Asia. Historically, their habitat extended into India, but there have been no recent sightings. Current populations are geographically isolated.
- Leopard ‘“ live primarily in woodlands and grasslands but can also thrive in Marginal Mountain and desert habitats. Their range extends through Africa to south eastern China with varying degrees of population density.
- Cheetah ‘“ carnivorous. Prefers grazing animals of approximately 30 to 40 pounds such as gazelles and impalas. It will also eat hares and some birds.
- Leopard ‘“ carnivorous. Prefers small to medium-sized grazing animals such as gazelles or tufted deer. However, leopards will eat anything if necessary, including dung beetles and amphibians.
- Cheetah ‘“ They are built for speed. They hunt during the day and track their prey using their sense of sight. They can chase their prey at speeds exceeding 60mph for short bursts. Cheetahs latch onto the throat of their prey and strangle it. Cheetahs sometimes live alone, but over half of observed cheetahs hunt in groups of two or three.
- Leopard ‘“ stalk their prey and silently pounce. They also strangle their prey with a bite to the neck. Leopards prefer to drag their prey up into a tree and feed there. They are solitary, nocturnal hunters.
- Cheetah ‘“ are shaped so differently from other big cats that they are their own genus. They have a rangy greyhound-like body. Their heads are small in proportion for their bodies to streamline their running and their tails flatten at the end to act as a rudder. Cheetahs have a coat of solid spots and two black tear lines extending from their eyes to the corners of their mouth to aid in seeing long distances.
- Leopard ‘“ have a bulkier body in a more traditional cat shape. Their legs are proportionally short and their paws are wide in order to climb trees. Their jaws are powerful and can crush the bones of their prey. Leopards has rosette shaped spots and white half-moons under their eyes to aid in night vision.
- Cheetah ‘“ are the only big cats who cannot roar. Instead they make a variety of sounds including purring, chirping, and growling.
- Leopard ‘“ produce a sound that is classified as a roar or growl/roar. It similar to that of a lion, but much less loud.
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