Difference Between Leopard And Cheetah

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Leopard And Cheetah Detailed Explanation

There are many animals that resemble each other in many ways and therefore it gets difficult to identify them. However, each animal has certain distinct characteristics of its own which differentiate it from other similar animals. One such pair of animals is the leopard and cheetah.


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Cheetah (Acinonyx jubatus) is the fastest animal on land. Nothing on Earth can run faster than it. It can reach up to a speed of 60 mph or perhaps even 80 mph. It can go from 0 to a speed of 60 mph in just three seconds. However, it cannot maintain these incredible speeds for a longer duration. The large nasal passages accommodate small canine teeth to allow sufficient air to flow during the chase.

The average lifespan of a cheetah in the wild is around 10-12 years.

Adult cheetahs weigh between 63 and 150 pounds with a body length of up to 55 inches or 140 cm. Their tails are quite long for their size. Because they are built for speed and agility, cheetahs are smaller than other predators. They have distinct dark black spots on their bodies.

Cheetahs are found in Africa and some parts of Asia. They usually live and hunt in open grasslands and live a social life. Cheetahs are carnivores, preferring to kill and eat medium-sized prey like gazelles, zebras, warthogs and impalas. They are pursuit predators who chase the fleeing prey. They mainly rely on their speed and sharp eyesight while hunting. They hunt during the day because they track their prey by sight and not by smell. The chase usually lasts less than a minute and if the cheetah cannot catch the prey quickly, it gives up. They kill about half of the animals they chase. When they sprint, they cover the ground with each stride of 20-25 ft( 6-7 m). 

Another distinct feature of the cheetah is that it doesn't roar, instead, it produces other sounds like growls and purrs.


Leopards (Panthera pardus) are powerful big cats found in northeast Africa, Central Asia, India, China, middle-east and sub-Saharan regions in Africa. They have a lifespan of 10 to 30 years.

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Leopards have long, slender bodies supported by short stocky legs. They are incredibly strong and muscular and are able to pull themselves up with their legs and retractable claws.

The head and body length measures about 90-190 cm and weigh around 80-180 pounds. They have irregular rosette spots on their bodies which resemble roses.

Leopards are nocturnal hunters, unlike cheetahs who hunt during the day. They can run up to speeds of 30 miles per hour. Their prey is medium-sized ranging from 10 to 35 kgs like impalas, bushbucks, warthogs, deer and chital. They spend most of their time high on trees and also take the carcasses to the top branches so that the scavengers like Hyena do not steal their meal. They can easily climb the trees with their retractable claws.

They make a variety of sounds like grunting, growling, hissing and meowing. One of their most recognized sounds is of the distant calls they make which sounds like someone sawing wood.

Leopards are ambush predators who sit and wait in a concealed position and launch a rapid surprise attack on the prey by strategy rather than speed or strength. They are silent and opportunistic hunters. They depend on sharp senses of hearing and vision for hunting. Leopards live a solitary life.

Difference Between Cheetah and Leopard

Basis of Comparison



Body type

Large Muscular body with short limbs and broad head

Thin, agile, lightly built, streamlined body with a small round head which makes cheetah a super fast sprinter


Rosettes: Jagged black circles resembling roses with tawny centres

Clear black spots on the body


The tail length is 64 -90 cm and is round tubular-shaped

The tail can measure 66-84 cm and is flat in shape which acts as a rudder in guiding direction

Facial markings

No facial markings

Black tear like facial marking



Day time


Drags the prey upon the branches

Hunt the prey on grasslands

Running speed 

50-60 km/h

80-130 km/h

Climb trees

Spends most of the time high up on branches

Do not climb trees

Teeth and jaws

Large teeth and jaws help in crunching bones

Small teeth and jaws, cannot crunch bones


Ambush Predator

Pursuit Predator

Gestation Period

90-105 days

90-98 days


Retractable claws

Claws do not retract which gives a grip during the high-speed sprint

Group Behaviour



FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions)

1. Which is the fastest animal between cheetah and leopard?

Cheetah is faster when compared to leopard. Cheetah has a speed of approximately 93 km per hour while they are hunting which can go up to 120 km per hour when they run through the African bush. While leopards are only half as faster than the cheetah. They have a speed of approximately 58-60 km per hour.

2. What is a leopon?

A Leopon is a hybrid offspring of a male leopard and a female lion. The head of a leopon looks similar to that of a lion while the rest of the body carries the traits of a leopard. These animals are generally not found in the wild and are bred and raised in captivity. The first leopon was bred in India in Kolhapur in 1859. Leopons are usually larger than leopards.