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Cheetahs Vs. Leopards, Can You Spot The Difference?


If you happen to go on a safari in most of the parks in Kenya, you will more often than not spot at least one of the animals in the cat family. Cheetahs and leopards are some of the animals in this family which has 42 known species. During your game drive, the guide will occasionally speak into the walkie-talkie “Twaburudika na ya chini hapa kwa Mto wa Mchanga.” You'll pay him no mind but before you know it, other safari vans will be driving towards your location to watch the spectacle. If you've never quite grasped the difference between the two big cats, here are a few dead giveaways.

  • Rosettes vs Spots - This is the biggest distinction. Leopards have spots that are flower-like; brown with a black outline. Cheetahs on the other hand have black solid spots.
  • Hunting - Leopards hunt at night while cheetahs hunt during the day. You will most likely find a leopard lazing up above a tree or on a rock during the day. Cheetahs hunt during the morning and early evenings since their vision is great during this time. So good is it's eyesight that it can spot its prey from 5 kms away.
  • Appearance - Whereas the leopard looks bulky and stocky, cheetahs are tall, long and lean. Cheetahs also have 'tear marks' that spread from inside of each eye to the mouth. These marks are important as they help deflect light from the sun making it easier to hunt during the day. 

  • Habits - Leopards are solitary animals whereas cheetahs stay in groups. The leopard enjoys climbing trees since it has retractable claws. Cheetahs however cannot  climb trees and their claws are semi-retractrable.

Did you know that a cheetah can accelerate from 0 to 113 km in just a few seconds? This makes it the Ferrari of the land animals. Now can you differentiate these cats from the image below?

Any other differences we've missed out on? Share them on the comment section below.


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