Difference Between Leopard and Cheetah

At first glance, it can look like both cats have black spots they may look quite similar; Obviously People often get confused when they look at leopard and cheetah; many people wrongly attribute them and think they are the same animal. To make a difference one has to look at their spots; leopard has rosettes (rose like markings) while cheetah has oval shaped spots. Both of them are very different in physical traits, colour, strength, hunting habits etc. Both these elegant big casts of African origin are excellent hunters; what would be the winner if an animal duel occurs between them. Let’s look closely at them so that we can determine who would rise victoriously.

Physical Traits of cheetahs and leopards:

What do Leopards look like?

Leopards are the member of the big cat family with the golden and spotted body often called the panther. Leopards have short legs, bigger front feet, a heavy and muscular skull with powerful jaws strong enough to pull their prey up trees in order to protect their meal. An adult leopard can have a height up to 84 inches excluding its 90 cm tail

What do Cheetahs look like?

Cheetahs have a narrow waist, slender body and deep chest with shorter coarse of fur; it has white underbelly without any spots and bushy long white tuft tail. Male Cheetah have solid round or oval black spots over the body and tear marks around their eyes; they got their name from the Sanskrit word “Chitraka” meaning the spotted one; Cheetahs have a height of about 56 inches having a tail length of around 77 cm.

The distinctive black lining on the cheetah’s face which runs from eyes to mouth protect their eyes from glare. because they are turning at such high speeds. semi retractable blunt claws gives them flexible spin, speed and agility while hunting.The cheetah’s distinctive black tear marks are clearly visible that streak from the inner corner of their eyes

Habitat: cheetah vs leopard

Where do Leopards live?

Leopards are intrinsic to sub-saharan Africa, south-west and central Asia including the India subcontinent. They make grasslands, woodlands, and riverine forests their home.

Where do Cheetahs live?

Cheetahs are found in the hot climate of Africa and south-western Asia. Cheetah hunt and prey in savannah, and grasslands of Africa; they use their speed to hunt down the prey so they need large swaths of plain land to hunt.cheetahs usually form coalitions in groups of 2 to 3.

Diet:

What do leopards eat?

Both cheetah and leopard are carnivorous animals. Leopard’s diet has a variety which includes antelopes, monkeys, warthogs, large birds, fish; they can hunt prey weighing more than 440 pounds.Leopards have powerful muscles; they usually use ambush tactics and chase their prey at some distance, breaks the neck of prey and suffocates it with their strong jaws. leopards retractable claws that are helpful in climbing trees or jumping on prey.

What do cheetahs eat?

Cheetahs are light weighted fast animals in comparison to leopards, they hunt mammals that don’t weigh more than 80 pounds such as the small deer, springbok, impala and gazelle. Cheetahs ambush and attack their prey and chase it with a phenomenal speed of about 70 km/hr. They also suffocate their prey to kill it.

Fun Facts for kids:

Some interesting facts about Leopard

  • Leopards are nocturnal animals, they have good night vision and usually hunt at night.
  • Leopards are solitary animals whereas cheetahs live in a small group of 2-5 members. 
  • Leopards can roar, growl, purr and hiss whereas cheetahs cannot roar but purr.
  • Leopard’s bite force is about 300-310 psi but cheetah has significantly high bite force than the leopard.
  • Leopards like to drag prey up trees . Cheetahs prefer grassy plains
  • Leopards is only cat with semi-retractable claws.
  • Leopards use their strong neck muscles to haul their kill over trees to keep them safe from other scavengers.

Some interesting facts about Cheetah

  • Cheetahs are the fastest land mammal on earth.They can reach speeds of up to 120 km/h
  • Cheetah can bite with a bite force of 475 psi. (Average human bite force is 162 pounds)
  • Cheetahs are diurnal animals; they are active during the day and mostly hunt during the morning and evening.
  • Cheetah also does the same but they can reach up only at some height due to their weak neck muscles.
  • Cheetahs hunt during the day, while leopards hunt at night

Combat: Duel: Who would win?

Leopards and Cheetahs are close rivals; to choose one as a winner out of these two is a tough nut to crack. In Africa, they both in the same habitat and the chances of encountering each other is quite high. But when it comes to one on one fight we predict leopard would win.

Leopard is quite heavy, stockier and has powerful jaws; however, an agile and quick cheetah would be a challenging opponent. As they encounter and attack, the agile cheetah would easily dodge any attack of the leopard but it cannot inflict any major injury on the leopard due to its blunt claws. But if it gets into the jaws of the leopard then it would change the game as the bulky leopard won’t release it in a go. Cheetah would suffocate if leopard breaks its neck and eventually diet out; so leopard rises victoriously and snatches the win. Hence, Leopard is the winner of this duel.

Comparison Chart: Leopard vs Cheetah

Comparison HeadsLeopardCheetah
KingdomAnimaliaAnimalia
ClassMammaliaMammalia
OrderCarnivoraCarnivora
FamilyFelidaeFelidae
SubfamilyFelinaePantherinae
PhylumChordataChordata
GenusAcinonyxPanthera
SpeciesA.JubatusP.Pardus
Binomial NameAcinonyx JubatusPanthera Pardus
ColouringTan with Black spotsYellow with Black rosettes
Conservation StatusVulnerableNear Threatened
SpeedUp to 70 kmph36 kmph
Litter Size3-52-4
DietCarnivoreCarnivore
Hunting BehaviourDiurnalNocturnal
Population7,000-10,000Around 69,000

Comparison Video: Leopard vs Cheetah

FAQ’S: Frequently Asked Questions

  • Is a Black Panther a cheetah?

    No, They are of entirely different genus. closest “big cat” relation to cheetah is the cougar or mountain lion, panther or puma.

  • Can a cheetah mate with a leopard?

    No, Cheetah and a leopard are different species interbreeding them may lead to infertile offspring.

  • Can Lions mate with leopards? what is offspring called?

    When the male lion and female jaguar mates with a leopard, the resulting offspring is called a leoliguar.