Generally, cheetahs have a more slender build as they chase and kill their prey. Being the fastest land animal on earth, the cheetah needs to have a slender build so as to be streamlined and more efficient at running. A leopard, on the other hand, has a more muscular build. They are ambush predators, meaning, they stalk their prey and pounce on them when they are within attacking range.
The tail of the cheetah is quite flat and it acts as a rudder on an aeroplane. They help in cornering and changing directions at speeds of over 80 km/h. The Leopard’s tail is more stocky and tubular. It acts like counterweight and helps the animal climb trees and to drag their kill up a tree.
The other obvious difference is in their coats. Cheetahs have clear black spots all over its body and a leopard has an irregular, rose-shaped spots called rosettes on its body.
Also, cheetahs have black, tear-like streaks that run from the corner of its eyes all the way down to its cheeks. These are theorized to help absorb blinding sunlight and reduce glare in the intense heat of the Saharan Africa. These spots are completely absent on the leopard’s face.
Difference Between Leopard and Cheetah
The animal kingdom has innumerable organisms under its massive tree. And there are many organisms that share the same features as other organisms. Sometimes, this leads to confusion between the different species.
Similarly, the difference between Leopard and Cheetah is quite inconspicuous because they possess the same body layout and similar markings on their body.
Let us have a look at the difference between cheetah and leopard based on its structural characteristics:
|Difference Between Cheetah and Leopard|
It has a thinner, streamlined body
It has a stocky and muscular build
Flat, rudder-like tail
Clear black, spots on the coat
Rosette-like markings on the coat
Black, tear-like facial marking
No such marking
| Claws don’t retract. Gives grip at high speeds
Claws retract into paws
|Pursuit predators||Ambush predators|
These major differences can easily help us distinguish between leopard and cheetah.
Also Read: Diversity in Living Organisms
Other Difference Between Cheetah and Leopard
Following are some other difference between cheetah and leopard:
|Black “tear” line which acts as reflection absorbers while hunting during sunny days.||No “tear” line.|
|Lighter and taller.||Bulky and strong.|
|Lankier than the cat shape.||Familiar cat shape.|
|Hunt during the day.||Hunt at night.|
|Prey on grassy plains.||Drags prey up the tree.|
|Rely on speed over short distances.||Rely on stealth.|
|Smaller teeth and jaws.||Larger teeth and jaws.|
|Cannot crunch through bones.||Can crunch through bones.|
|Live a social life.||Live a solitary life.|
|Can’t climb trees.||Climb trees through retractile claws.|
|Run at a speed of 113km/h.||Run at a speed of 60km/h.|
Some interesting facts about Leopard and Cheetah
Both Cheetah and Leopard are the members of the Felidae family. Cheetah is mainly found in Africa, savannah grasslands and only a few parts of Iran.
Leopards are the most widespread wildlife found in most habitats from dense woodlands, mountains and desert regions.
Animal welfare organizations have introduced cheetah project into different Wildlife Sanctuaries to reintroduce Cheetah back into our country.
Leopards hunt at night and live a solitary life, while Cheetahs hunt during the day time and are very social. Cheetahs are fast runners and can run at a speed of 110-115 km/h while leopards can run at a speed of 50- 60 km/h.
Compared to Cheetahs, Leopards are very good tree climbers, as they can easily climb up with the help of their retractile claws while cheetahs cannot.
Leopards have powerful teeth and jaws that can crunch thick bone. Cheetahs have smaller jaws, teeth with a larger nasal cavity for rapid breathing.
Also Read: Nomenclature and Biodiversity
To know more about the difference between leopard and cheetah and other interesting topics, keep visiting BYJU’S Biology.
Frequently Asked Questions
Which is fastest-leopard or cheetah?
Cheetah is the fastest animal on earth. It runs at a speed of 113 km/h. Leopards are not as fast as a cheetah. They run at a speed of 60 km/h.
How is a cheetah different from a jaguar?
The cheetah and jaguar differ from each other based on the type of spots present on their body. The shape of the body of both animals is different. Also, a cheetah runs faster than a jaguar.
Where can a cheetah be found in the world?
A cheetah is found in Africa, savannah grasslands and a few parts of Iran. This animal is believed to have become extinct in India.
How can you differentiate between a leopard and a cheetah based on their living habits?
A cheetah lives in groups whereas a leopard is found in solitude. Leopards can climb trees with the help of their retractile claws whereas the cheetahs cannot.
Which family do cheetahs and leopards belong to?
Cheetahs and leopards belong to the Felidae family.