One Big Cat Is not Like the Other
It’s not Hard to Tell a Cheetah From a Leopard: Look Them in the Face!
by Alexis Cherry, age 14
Some say it is difficult to tell a leopard from a cheetah. But, if you know what to look for, it’s simple. One way to tell these cats apart is to look them in the eye.
Although both leopards and cheetahs possess similar spots on their faces, a cheetah’s face is much more complicated. Cheetah faces have black tear lines that run from the corners of both eyes to the corners of their mouths. Leopards lack this characteristic. Leopards have no tear lines, a big full face and much bigger ears.
Another way to distinguish a cheetah from a leopard is by their spots. The leopard has spots called rosettes; the distinctive spots fashion designers call “leopard print.” The outer ring of this rosette is black with a brown dot in the center. A cheetah, on the other hand, has solid black dots.
The body structures of cheetahs and leopards are also different. A cheetah’s torso is skinny and long compared to a leopard’s, which is full and short. The cheetah has longer legs and much smaller paws than a leopard.
At first glance, cheetahs and leopards both have spots, are big cats, and have similar colors. But if you look closely you can discover the truth: each of these big cat species has distinguishing features that make it fairly easy to tell them apart.
[Sources: The Encyclopedia of Animals; AWF; National Geographic; Discovery News]