/Leopard vs Cheetah : Can You Tell The Difference

Leopard vs Cheetah : Can You Tell The Difference

By Anwynn Louw – Online Marketing Assistant

How often do you mistake a leopard for a cheetah or vice versa? I’m sure we’ve all made this mistake once or twice. While they are both cats, leopards and cheetahs are very different from each other with distinct differences.

The most common difference between these two animals is the patterns on their coat. At first glance, it may look like they both have spots, but in actual fact, a leopard has rosettes which are rose-like markings, and cheetahs have a solid round or oval spot shape.

Difference between leopards and cheetahs - The coat

Difference between leopards and cheetahs - The coat

Cheetahs are known to have a black “tear” line which runs down their face. This line runs from the inside of the eye down towards the mouth of the cheetah. These marks are not only beautiful, but they help reflect the glare of the sun while hunting during the day.

Leopards don’t hunt during the day like cheetah do, they rather hunt at night. They have a large number of light-sensitive cells in their eyes that detect less colour but allow the leopards to detect movement and shape easily in the dark. The large pupil of the leopard’s eyes allows abundant light to enter, making it possible to see at night when they hunt for their prey.

Tear line - Cheetah

Tear line - Cheetah

Cheetahs are the fastest land animals. They can reach speeds of up to 120 km per hour and have the ability to accelerate from 0 to 103 km/h in three seconds, faster than most sports cars!

Leopards, on the other hand, only reach a top speed of about 58 km/h, but what they lack in speed they make up for with other abilities. They have retractable claws which allow them to be the superb climbers that they are.  They are extremely good swimmers, too!

Many people may not know that leopards are also the smallest of the cats. They may be stronger and bulkier than the cheetah, but the cheetah is much lighter and taller.

leopard in a tree with prey

leopard in a tree with prey

Leopards do not have a specific birthing season, though mating is more likely to occur during the months of January and February. The gestation period for leopards is between 90 and 105 days. Leopard females typically give birth to two cubs, although litters can number up to six cubs. These cubs are born with a dull grey coat and not the distinctive rose-like spots.

Cheetah females have a gestation period of 90 – 98 days and typically give birth to a litter of three to four cubs. Both leopards and cheetah cubs are born completely blind, however, they develop rapidly and within 10 days their eyes have opened.

Of course, all of Asilia’s camps – strategically situated in remote and pristine locations along the migration route – are hot spots for world-class big cat viewings. In fact, we have some famous cats that have even starred in National Geographic documentaries through the years!

Cheetah in grassy plains.

Cheetah in grassy plains.

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