In the familys of wildcats the lepord is the most easily recognised by its rosette patterned coat and extremely long, darker tail. This large cat is sometimes confused in appearance with the South American Jaguar - the leopard though is less stocky and unlike the jaguar, its rosette markings are usually smaller and have no internal spots. With the largest animals growing to a length of nearly 5 feet with an additional tail length of some 3 feet - usually the male has an advantage of being between 20-40% larger than the female. The base color form 9code) of the coat also varies greatly depending upon location, ranging from golden/yellow in open grasslands, through yellow/cream in desert areas to deep gold in mountain and forest regions.
All black leopards, sometimes commonly called 'Black Panthers are born in the same litter as normally marked cats and also carry the color markings, although these are masked by the darkness of the fur. It has been observed that the all black leopard is most usually found in the dense, wet forested areas of India and south east Asia, where the color gives the lepors an advantages that the cat needs in its hunting.
The leopard is a versatile (embracing) hunter and usually does it nightly in its search of prey - however the increased frequency of hunting found in the female raising young often leads to more opportunist hunting during daylight hours. The type of prey taken by the leopard is again dependant largely upon its locale - in the open grasslands of Africa where roaming herds of large to medium sized groups of mammals are common to the leopard . However in the same areas the leopard will also take small mammals such as hares and rock hyrax, reptiles and insects. In contrast, in the west and central forested regions of Africa the leopards prey consists mainly of the smaller antelope such as duiker, small monkeys and various rodents such as rats, squirrels and porcupines.
Although a strong and competent hunter, the leopard is not without threat from other carnivores - because of this the leopard commonly caches its prey high in the branch of trees away from packs of scavenging hyenas and opportunist lions. It is here that the leopard demonstrates its huge strength - its powerful limb and neck muscles enabling it to carry a fully grown male antelope or even young giraffe, often weighing up to three times its own body weight, high into the tree tops.