Leopard

Panthera Pardus

The Leopard

Classification

  • Domain Eukarya- Domain Eukarya consists of organisms that are eukaryotic (organisms that are made of cells with nuclei). With the exception of Kingdom Protista, most eukaryotes are multicellular. Domain Eukarya consists of four kingdoms- Protista, Fungi, Plantae, and Animalia.
  • Kingdom Animalia- All animals are multicellular, and their cells have no cell wall that most eukaryotes do. They can move at some point in their life. They are also internal heterotrophs and most reproduce sexually.
  • Phylum Chordata- Members of Phylum Chordata are bilaterally symmetrical (which means two halves of their body are the same), have muscles, has three germ layers, and has an endoskeleton.
  • Subphylum Vertebrata- Members of this subphylum are known as vertebrates, and they all have a backbone/spine.
  • Class Mammalia- Animals in this class are known as mammals. Mammals have three middle ear bones, has hair, and has mammary glands. Sight, hearing, and communication skills are typically well-developed.
  • Order Carnivora- Animals here are typically carnivores (meat eaters), but some are omnivores (plant and meat eaters). They have specially placed teeth so they can rip apart prey/teeth. They have exquisite senses, far surpassing many animals and even humans! Some are polygamous (has more than one mate), polygynandrous (has more than one mate in one breeding season), or monogamous (only has one mate).
  • Family Felidae- Felids are what members of this level are known as. They are the most morphologically and strategically advanced hunters of any carnivores, often using their physical adaptations to their advantage. They are solitary except druing the breeding season, and they tend to be nocturnal.
  • Genus Panthera- Genus Panthera is the counterpart of Genus Felis, as cats in Panthera roar yet Felis cats meow.
  • Species Panthera pardus- The species Panthera pardus is commonly known as the leopard.
  • Races of Panthera pardus- Panthera pardus is divided up into ten subspecies, or races, depending where they live. This will be discussed later.

Jim Reindl

General Description

The leopard is a fascinating animal that is popular in many ways. Here are some basic facts to help you get to know this animal better. It 's length can 7.25 ft long through 10.75 ft long. and it weighs around 66-176 lbs. Leopards are born grey with one or two rosettes (spots on a cat). As they mature they earn more rosettes and their fur goes from grey to tan with a lighter-colored underbelly. The leopard lives all throughout Africa, the Middle East, Caucasus (the northern Middle East; contains Armenia, Azerbaijan, Georgia, Kazakhstan, etc.), the Indian sub-continent, the Far East, Eastern Siberia (in wild areas surrounding the city of Vladivostok), and Java. Each subspecies of leopards is specially adapted to live in that area. Here are where each of the subspecies live.

  • Panthera pardus pardus- Sub-Saharan Africa
  • Panthera pardus nimr- Arabian Peninsula/ Middle East/ North Africa
  • Panthera pardus saxicolor- Caucascus
  • Panthera pardus melas- Java
  • Panthera pardus kotiya- Sri Lanka
  • Panthera pardus fusca- Indian subcontinent
  • Panthera pardus delacourii- Far East
  • Pantera pardus japonensis- Northern China
  • Panthera pardus orientalis- Vladivostokian Siberia and Korea
  • Panthera pardus roseus- the extremely rare Pink Panther; lives in South Africa
  • Leopards that are melanistic (entirely black) are called panthers


The one thing in common that all leopard races share is the love to climb. The pardus race climbs acacia trees in the warm savannas. The nimrs roam the dry dunes of the Sahara and the mountainous deserts of the Near East. The saxicolors have the ultimate experience of climbing the rugged, cold Caucasian mountains. The melas lives on the top of Indonesian tropical rainforest trees. So basically, their habitat is based on where they can climb. It seems like they prefer warm weather, but can manage the cold. The leopard's diet is carnivorous, meaning they only eat meat. They prey on all types of prey, but their favorites are wildebeests, deer, gazelles, warthogs, young primates or wild horses, rodents, walking birds, and arthropods (crabs, lobsters, etc.). They get their prey by first stalking them some place higher up than their target. Once the time is right, they pounce on them. They bite their neck, causing suffocation and paralysis. After, they take them, eat them, and put the leftovers in a tree so scavengers won't get to them. The leopard's main and only predator is the human, and the people who "prey on them" are really just poachers looking to make some easy cash.

Adaptations

Adaptations are characteristics that help an animal survive. There are two types of adaptations- physical and behavioral. A physical adaptation is a genetically inherited physical trait that helps it to survive. A behavioral adaptation is an inherited behavior that helps it to live.

Physical Adaptations

  • Large skull- Leopards have a large skull so that way they can have room for the large muscles needed for eating prey.
  • Bulky leg muscles- Leopards have big leg muscles so they can climb trees and slopes easier. They can stalk prey, and even make a temporary home up there.
  • Big whiskers and eyelashes- You may not see it, but leopards have large whiskers and eyelashes. It helps them see better in vegetation and snowstorms (if they live in Siberia or especially Caucascus).
  • Different rosettes- Leopards have different rosettes. This happens since they need to be identified by other leopards. It helps other leopards know who is who, and it might even attract a mate, which helps produce more of the species. They also help to blend in while stalking prey.
  • Developed Senses- Leopards have developed senses that they rely heavily on for hunting.

Behavioral Adaptations

  • Nocturnal- Leopards are nocturnal. They do it to give them the upper hand in hunting and to avoid poachers, since humans are normally asleep at that time.
  • Solitary- Leopards tend to be solitary except during the breeding season. That way they can be more selfish of the prey they catch and be more independent.
  • Marking territory- Leopards mark territory with waste and claw marks so they can have an established area to live. It helps because one of the basic needs is shelter, and their "home range" provides shelter.
  • Communication- Leopards communicate with sounds and gestures. When they are threatened, they growl, roar, and spit, and when content, they purr. It helps because if any poachers try to shoot them, or if any other leopard tries to steal his mate, he could use these gestures to tell them "BACK OFF!" The creature they were trying to get away from would most likely run away.
  • Ambushing- Leopards tend to ambush prey. Since they have all the physical traits needed to stalk and kill, this would be the best strategy for them.