The African Leopard is one of the rarest and most distinguished of all big cats. There are 9 different species of Leopard in the world. The most common and well known is the African Leopard. Leopards are solitary hunters and predators. Only coming together once during the breeding season, they live their entire lives on their own. Leopards range from Africa, Asia, and to as far as Russia. The African Leopard’s diet consists of a large range of prey. This is what makes the Leopard the widest ranging of all great cats. Leopards are excellent climbers. The African Leopard is the only known species of cat that is equipped with fully rotating and interlocking ankles. This enables them to walk head first down trees like squirrels. The common mistake with leopards is that people often mistake them for other big cats such as the Jaguar. Jaguar’s live in South America and are a lot bigger than the Leopard. Jaguar’s also have tear stains running from their eyes. Their spot pattern is a circle with a dot in the center. This helps to identify them. The three most common and well known Leopard species are the Asiatic Leopard, Snow Leopard (2nd from bottom) and the Amur Leopard (bottom photo).
Despite common belief, the Black Panther is actually not a separate Leopard species at all. The Black in these cats are a result of a recessive gene called the “red gene”. This turns their coats black instead of the usual tan color with spots. Their spots are still visible on their coats in bright sunlight.
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