The Leopard is a medium-sized wildcat that is natively found in a variety of different habitats across sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia. A member of the “Big Cat” family, the Leopard is an agile and opportunistic hunter that has been able to exploit habitats unused by other large felines as it spends a great deal of it’s time high in the tree branches. There are seven different sub-species of Leopard which differ in their appearance and geographic location, with the African Leopard being the most common and widespread and the others being the rare (endangered) Amur Leopard.The Leopard has a long and slender body that is supported by short, stocky legs and a long tail that is used to aid balance whilst in the trees. Leopards can vary greatly in their colouration and markings depending on their surrounding habitat, with those found on open grasslands having a light yellow background coat where those that are found in forests tend to be darker in colour and with more markings.
The dark, ring-like patterns that cover the Leopard’s coat are called rosettes, but these turn to solid spots on the face and limbs (and rings on the tail) and provide the Leopard with camouflage into the surrounding environment. Leopards are incredibly strong and muscular and are able to pull themselves up trees using their legs and retractable claws. Like a number of other large feline species, the Leopard is able to draw their claws into folds of skin on their paws to ensure that they are not blunted whilst the animal is walking about. Their keen hearing and sight coupled with their long and very sensitive whiskers, means that Leopards are also incredibly well adapted for hunting under the cover of night.