How To Tell Jaguars And Leopards Apart

Posted on June 4th 2018

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Everybody can tell the difference between a lion and a cheetah, but when it comes to telling jaguars apart from leopards, the difference is not so clear cut. Both of these big cats are muscular and have spotted fur. This is why people tend to confuse the two species and many people actually think they are both the same. As a result, we decided to put together a more detailed look at the two big cats so people could see there is quite a bit of difference between the two feline species.

Jaguars are bigger and badder

The first major difference is that jaguars roam throughout South and Central America and are the largest species of big cat on that continent. Leopards on the other hand live in Africa and Asia. The jaguar is actually the bigger and bulkier of the two, with leopards actually being the smallest big cats in Africa and Asia. Jaguars have huge jaw muscles which deliver the strongest bite of any big cat. The reason there is a difference in size between the two species comes down to their natural environments which force them to hunt different prey.

Jaguars love water

Both jaguars and leopards are excellent swimmers, but jaguars in particular love water and feed on caiman and anacondas. Prey which are also predators in their own right tend to require a lot of effort to kill. Leopards contrastingly avoid the water and rarely if ever hunt crocodiles, preferring to prey on deer and other mammals.

King cats

Both big cats tend to have their own peculiarities. Jaguars know they are the kings of their jungle and tend to be arrogant. They don’t tend to show aggression towards humans but if they come across one, they will communicate through snarls and growls. Leopards on the other hand tend to be quite aggressive because they know they are not the apex predator in their environment and have to constantly be on the look out for danger from other predators such as lions. Their smaller size means they are more athletic and they have the ability to haul their kills up trees.

Black Panthers

The spots on the coats of jaguars and leopards are known as rosettes because these black circles resemble roses. They act as camouflage for both big cats as they prowl through forests and other vegetation. Both leopards and jaguars can be complete black as a result of a mutation which is called a “black panther”. The colouring is the product of a gene which produces surplus melanin which we know everyone who is greying out there would love to have!

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