Leopards are the biggest cats in the world. These fierce cats are to be feared because they have all the tools needed for killing. Leopards have sharp teeth, sharp claws, strong muscles, they can climb to great heights and they can run fast. These huge cats are also remarkably flexible thanks to their cat-like structure.
In a one on one battle with a leopard, no human stands a chance. But luckily, these huge cats prefer to stay out of our way. These cats are at their happiest in their own habitat in African bushvelds, savannas, forests, woodlands, and grasslands.
They are best known for their golden coats and black speckles although some leopards can be quite dark or even entirely black.
These large cats do have quite a healthy appetite. They are strictly carnivores and love to go after large prey because they need a lot of food to help them stay nourished and full of energy. Here is a quick look at some of the foods that leopards enjoy eating.
Leopards are mostly fond of eating mid-sized animals. They enjoy hunting antelope, gazelles, deer, warthogs, pigs, primates and various other medium-sized animals. Since leopards are lone hunters they typically avoid prey that is too big for one cat to handle.
Leopards can cause quite a lot of damage in livestock farms because they enjoy hunting and eating all sorts of domesticated animals. These large cats love to hunt sheep, goats, calves, lambs, pigs, geese, and poultry and as such are often considered pests.
Leopards do sometimes catch small animals like monkeys, rabbits, mice, rats, and other rodents if they cannot find something bigger to eat. They do however prefer larger prey but will make a meal out of just about anything smaller that moves.
These cats are not extremely fond of swimming but they will swim in rivers and dams to reach their prey. They can catch fish if they need to and will feed on just about any fish species they can find.
Leopards can climb trees, mountains, and rocky slopes with great ease and they are also agile enough to leap high from the ground. They will climb up into trees to catch birds or to eat chicks and eggs. They can also stalk wild birds like pheasants, guinea fowl, and other smaller birds and can quickly leap to catch these birds in flight.
If food is scarce, leopards will also feed on reptiles. These agile cats can easily overpower any lizard they can find and they have even been spotted hunting crocodiles from rivers. Leopards are even known to pursue snakes if they are very hungry.
These big cats can also eat insects if other food is extremely scarce. They might feed on dung beetles, grasshoppers, termites, caterpillars, moths, butterflies, flies, maggots, and other insects if they cannot find anything more suitable to eat.
These large cats are not shy about stealing carcasses from other animals at all. They will take food from just about any other predatory species such as hyenas, jackals, wild dogs, and many others. The only animal the leopard might be afraid to steal from is a lion or a large pack of predatory animals.
Cannibalism is pretty common amongst leopards. In many cases, male leopards will kill younger ones to reduce competition in their territory. In these cases, the leopards will also feast on the carcass of the deceased animal.
Leopards are dangerous animals. They can be very territorial and will strike at anything that seems to be a threat in their territory. It is very important to be very careful when feeding these dangerous cats.
For leopards to stay healthy, they need to eat a variety of animal meat types because different animals eat different foods that supply leopards with all their needed nutrients.
In the wild, leopards hunt for all sorts of animals. They prefer mid-sized animals like impalas that they can take down easily. These large cats will however feed on smaller animals like bunnies or birds if they cannot find mid-sized animals. In harsh conditions, they will also resolve to eat reptiles, other predators, and insects.
In captivity, leopards are usually fed on carrion meats. These meats are usually sourced from local farms and may include just about any type of meat including bigger animals like a giraffe or domestic animals like cows or horses. They are also sometimes supplied with poultry meat if other animal foods are unavailable.
Leopards are mammals and their young are called cubs. Young cubs are born blind and deaf and nurse from their mothers. From two months on, the mother will start bringing some of her to kill back to the den so her cubs can start to eat solid foods. By the time the cubs are three months old, the mother will begin to wean them and they will start following their mother so they can learn to hunt for themselves. Leopard cubs will stay at their mother’s side for 12 – 18 months after which they will leave to start lives of their own.
An average leopard requires about 400kg of meat per year. This means they only need about one kilogram of meat per day. But these animals do not feed every single day. They tend to gorge on meat and will spend a few days digesting their food before they will need to hunt again. Typically, they only consume one-third of a carcass before moving on.
Prey might not be available for leopards every single day. They gorge on their kill and will rest for several days while their food digests. If leopards make a big enough kill, they can go for 13 – 18 days before making a kill. They will however hunt much sooner if their previous kill was rather small.
Leopards are not too likely to attack and eat humans. In most cases, they tend to avoid humans. But once a leopard does kill a human or scavenge on human flesh, it is much more likely to become a man-killer and will continue to target humans.
Leopards do eat crocodiles but this isn’t a common food source for them. Typically, they are not fond of swimming but leopards will dive into the water to catch a crocodile if they are very hungry. These large cats are also perfectly capable of killing rather large crocks because of their flexibility.
Cheetahs and leopards are in competition for food. Leopards will see cheetahs as a threat if these animals invade their territory and might choose to hunt and kill or even eat the cheetah.
Baboons and leopards are ancient enemies and leopards frequently stalk baboons to carry off one of the troops at night. Baboons are relatively easy prey for leopards and are a very common food source for these large cats.
Yes, these large cats do sometimes kill and eat lion cubs if they happen to find an unattended cub. In most cases, leopards avoid lions since lions tend to be more powerful and the leopard stands a very good chance of getting a fatal injury.
These big cats need a lot of protein in their diet to stay nourished and they are unable to digest plant matter. You might sometimes spot a leopard chewing on grass. Like all other cat species, they do this because they enjoy the taste or might lack folic acid in their diet. But grass or other plants aren’t a necessary food source for these cats.