Difference Between Tiger and Leopard

Main Difference –  Tiger vs Leopard

There are four types of big cats that come under the genus Panthera; these include lion, leopard, tiger and jaguar. These adult big cats are at least 1.5 m long and are considered as top predators in many food chains. All the big cats are carnivores, and they can roar, unlike smaller cats. This article focuses on discussing the difference between tiger and leopard. The main difference between tiger and leopard is that the tiger has striped fur whereas leopards have spots on their fur.

This article looks at,

1. Tiger
      – Facts, Features, Behaviour
2. Leopard
      – Facts, Features, Behaviour
3. Difference between Tiger and LeopardDifference between Tiger and Leopard - Comparison Summary

Tiger – Facts, Features, and Behaviour

Tiger is the biggest of all big cats living in the world. Tigers are very strong animals with long muscular bodies equipped with thick and sturdy legs and long heavy tails. This killing machine can jump 4-5 m high and leap up to 9 m. There are six sub-species of tigers including Siberian tiger, Bengal tiger, Sumatran tiger, South China tiger, Indochinese tiger and Malayan tiger. These sub-species all look very similar, but there are some noticeable differences in their body size, and thickness and colour of their coats. The scientific name of the tiger is Panthera tigris. Tigers are solitary animals. They have characteristic black stripes on their orange colour coat. However, there are white tigers with bright white colour fur and black stripes. White tigers are a mutation and very rarely found in the wild. Tigers are native to east and southern Asia. They prefer to live in dense forests. Tigers are excellent hunters and have the ability to run, climb trees, jump and swim. An average adult tiger usually weighs around 300 kg. Tigers are considered as an endangered species.

Difference Between Tiger and Leopard

Figure 1: Tiger

Leopard – Facts, Features, and Behaviour

Leopards are the smallest of all big cats and are distinguished by their slender and long body and yellowish-brown coats with black spots. They are solitary hunters and night- stalkers and are well known for their ambush attacks when hunting. The scientific name of leopard is Panthera pardus. There are seven subspecies distributed in sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia. Usually, an average adult leopard weighs up to 90 kg. Leopards are excellent climbers. The slender body with short, stocky legs and long tail make them excellent and agile hunters. Leopards are inhabiting various types of areas including rainforests, deserts, mountains and grasslands. Certain subspecies of leopards are considered as threatened species mainly due to the loss of their natural habitats.

Main Difference -  Tiger vs  Leopard

Figure 2: Leopard

Difference Between Tiger and Leopard

Scientific Name

Tiger: Tigers’ scientific name is Panthera tigris.

Leopard: Leopard’s scientific name is Panthera pardus.

Size of an Average Animal

Tiger: Tigers are the biggest of all big cats. They are about 9-11 ft long and about 300 kg weight.

Leopard: Leopards are the smallest of all big cats. They are about 4-7 ft long and about 90 kg weight.

Coat Characteristics

Tiger: Tigers have an orange coat with black stripes.

Leopard: Leopards have a yellowish brown or gold coat with black spots.

Number of Subspecies

Tiger: There are 6 subspecies.

Leopard: There are 7 subspecies.


Tiger: Tigers are native to east and southern Asia.

Leopard: Leopards are native to sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia.


Tiger: Tigers live in dense forests.

Leopard: Tigers live in forests, grasslands, mountains and deserts.

Conservation Status

Tiger: Tigers are endangered.

Leopard: Leopards are near threatened.

Body Type

Tiger: Tigers have a large, muscular body.

Leopard: Leopards have a slender body. 

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2.Hart, T. (2014). Claybourne, Anna: Tigers (Living in the Wild: Big Cats). School Librarian, 62(4), 237-238.
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3.Animal life in nature, myth and dreams. Chiron Publications.
4.Muturi, S., & Davidson, J. (2013). Animals of Africa For Kids Amazing Animal Books for Young Readers. JD-Biz Corp Publishing.

Image Courtesy:
1. “Nagarhole Kabini Karnataka India, Leopard September 2013″By Srikaanth Sekar – Flickr: Leopard (CC BY-SA 2.0) via Commons Wikimedia
2. “Panthera tigris tigris Tadoba India wild tiger” By Grassjewel – Own work (CC BY-SA 3.0) via Commons Wikimedia

About the Author: Yashoda

Yashoda has been a freelance writer in the field of biology for about four years. He is an expert in conducting research related to polymer chemistry and nano-technology. He holds a B.Sc. (Hons) degree in Applied Science and a Master of Science degree in Industrial Chemistry.

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