Q:

What are some physical characteristics of a leopard?

A:

Leopards have muscular bodies, short powerful limbs, white underbellies and tawny coats with black spots, known as rosettes. All leopards have unique rosette patterns, and their fur ranges from reddish-orange to pale yellow or tan. Their dark spots become solid around the head, limbs and chest. Small, rounded ears extend from the leopard's broad face, which also has long sensory whiskers around the muzzle and the eyebrows.

The color of a leopard's fur varies by location and helps it blend in with local surroundings. For example, many desert leopards have creamy yellow or light brown fur, while leopards in cooler habitats often have a smoky gray tinge to their tawny fur. Occasionally, leopards are born with higher amounts of melanin in their genetic makeup and have completely black fur, making their spots harder to see.

Leopards are smaller than other big cats, but they take advantage of their compact size to move stealthily on land, in trees and in water. Average males weigh between 80 and 150 pounds, while females weigh 62 to 100 pounds, according to LiveScience. Leopards have strong jaws and paws, allowing them to kill prey quickly by breaking their necks. These robust felines can haul carcasses as heavy as three times their own body weight.

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