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Leopard

Scientific name: Panthera pardus

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Leopard - Panthera pardus

Leopard - Panthera pardus

Photo © Petrmasek / iStockPhoto.

The leopard (Panthera pardus) is a member of the cat family. The leopard's coat has a background color of pale, cream-yellow on its underside that darkens slightly to an orange-brown on its back. Solid black spots adorn its limbs and head, smaller and denser than the golden, umber-centered rosettes that cover its back and sides. The leopard's tale has irregular patches that, at the tip of the tale, become dark-ringed bands.

This muscular cat grows to lengths of 3 to 6 1/2 feet and reaches between 24 and 43 inches in height. Full grown leopards can weigh between 82 and 200 pounds. The lifespan of a leopard is between 12 and 17 years.

Leopards exhibit a range of color and pattern variations. Black leopards, once thought to be a separate species from other leopards, are individuals that, due to a genetic mutation know as melanism, have a large amount of dark melanin in their coat. Leopards living in desert areas tend to be pale yellow in color. Leopards inhabiting grasslands are a deeper golden color.

Classification

Animals > Chordates > Vertebrates > Mammals > Carnivores > Cats > Leopards

References

Burnie D, Wilson DE. 2001. Animal. London: Dorling Kindersley. 624 p.

Guggisberg C. 1975. Wild Cats of the World. New York: Taplinger Publishing Company.

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