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Leopard Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Jennifer Lowery

Jennifer has taught elementary levels K-3 and has master's degrees in elementary education and curriculum/instruction and educational leadership.

Leopards are very large cats that live in the wild. Find out where they live, what they look like and what they eat. Explore some interesting facts about these big cats.

The Big Spotted Cat

Have you ever heard the expression 'A leopard never changes his spots'? This means that usually a person does not change who he or she is. Let's explore more about the animal that this phrase is about. A leopard belongs in the category of panthers, a group of five feline or cat animals. Within this category, there are nine subspecies of panthers. The Persian leopard is the largest subspecies. Many of the leopard subspecies, such as the Amur and Javan, are critically endangered, meaning that they are in danger of disappearing.

Physical Characteristics

Leopards have physical adaptations that help them survive in the wild. These cats are fierce predators and can run at great speeds. They are also very strong swimmers!

Although the expression is true that a leopard's individual spots don't change, there is a wide variety of coloring in different leopards throughout the world. Some cats have spots that are more square in shape, and others are more rounded. These spots are often called rosettes since they look a little like a rose flower. The color behind the spots can range from yellow to cream.

Believe it or not, a black panther is actually a leopard that has a genetic difference from other leopards and therefore it is solid black. The snow leopard has lighter coloring in order to blend in to its mountain environment with snow and ice.

The lighter coloring and warmer, longer fur of the snow leopard help it thrive in mountain environments.
snow leopard in ice

Habitat and Diet

Leopards live in Africa, China, India, and central Asia. They can survive in all types of environments, including deserts, grasslands, and mountains. Regardless of their environment, they must live close to a water source in order to survive. Not only do they need water to drink, but a watering hole also provides a great opportunity for leopards to hunt for prey.

Leopards are carnivores, which means that their diet consists of eating other animals. Leopards are great climbers, and they often drag their prey up into trees to protect this food from being eaten by other animals.

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