The main difference between cheetah leopard and jaguar is that cheetahs have prominent black lines that curve from the inner corner of each eye to the outer corners of the mouth, whereas jaguars have black spots arranged in rosettes with a black spot in the center, and leopards have smaller, more densely packed rosettes without central spots.
Cheetah, leopard, and jaguar are three types of large cats that belong to the family Felidae. The genus of the cheetah is Acinonyx while the genus of leopard and jaguar is Panthera. All three are carnivorous animals.
Key Areas Covered
- What is Cheetah
- Facts, Features, Behavior
- What is Leopard
- Facts, Features, Behavior
- What is Jaguar
- Facts, Features, Behavior
- Similarities Between Cheetah and Leopard and Jaguar
- Outline of Common Features
- Difference Between Cheetah and Leopard and Jaguar
- Comparison of Key Differences
Cheetah, Leopard, Jaguar
Cheetah – Facts, Features, Behavior
A cheetah is a large cat native to Africa. Since cheetahs do not belong to the Panthera genus, they do not have retractable claws. More importantly, the cheetah is the fastest land animal. Small black spots cover its entire body in a background of pale yellow and it also has a white underbelly. In addition, there are prominent black lines that curve from the inner corner of each eye to the outer corners of the mouth.
Furthermore, cheetahs are active during the day. They hunt in the early morning and late afternoon. Generally, cheetahs hunt for game birds, rabbits, small antelopes (including the springbok, impala, and gazelle), young warthogs, and larger antelopes (such as the kudu, hartebeest, oryx, and roan).
Leopard – Facts, Features, Behavior
Leopard is a large solitary cat with a fawn or brown coat with black spots, native to the forests of Africa and southern Asia. It is also one of the five extant species in the genus Panthera. Moreover, when we look at their physical appearances, leopards have relatively short legs and long body with large skull. Similar in appearance to the jaguar, the fur of the leopard has marks of rosettes. But the rosettes are smaller, more densely packed, and without central spots.
Moreover, some leopards are melanistic and are known as black panthers. Well-camouflaged fur, opportunistic hunting behavior, broad diet, strength, and its ability to adapt to a variety of habitats ranging from rainforest to steppe, including arid and montane areas are the significant features of a leopard.
Jaguar – Facts, Features, Behavior
Jaguar is the largest New World member of the cat family (Felidae). It belongs to the genus Panthera. Jaguar is native to northern Mexico southward to northern Argentina. The most preferred habitats of jaguars usually include swamps and wooded regions, but jaguars also live in scrublands and deserts. Typically, the coloration of the jaguar is orange to tan, with black spots arranged in rosettes with a black spot in the center.
Although the coloration of the jaguar is similar to that of the leopard, the leopard does not have central black spots in rosettes. In addition, jaguars enjoy bathing and are active during the day.
Similarities Between Cheetah and Leopard and Jaguar
- Cheetah, leopard, and jaguar are three types of big cats of the family Felidae.
- Their fur color, teeth, height, weight, behavior, etc. are their important characteristics.
- Also, all of their skins are spotted.
- Moreover, all three are carnivorous animals.
Difference Between Cheetah and Leopard and Jaguar
Cheetah refers to a large slender spotted cat found in Africa and parts of Asia and is the fastest animal on land, while leopard refers to a large solitary cat that has a fawn or brown coat with black spots, native to the forests of Africa and southern Asia. Jaguar, on the other hand, refers to a large heavily built cat that has a yellowish-brown coat with black spots, found mainly in the dense forests of Central and South America.
The cheetah is Acinonyx jubatus, the leopard is Panthera pardus, and the jaguar is Panthera Onca.
Cheetah lives in Africa and parts of Asia, and leopard lives in the forests of Africa and southern Asia, while the jaguar lives in the dense forests of Central and South America.
Maximum Running Speed
The maximum running speed of the cheetah is 80 – 130 km/h, and the maximum running speed of the leopard is 58 km/h, while the maximum running speed of the jaguar is 80 km/h.
The height of a cheetah is 67 – 94 cm at the shoulder; the height of the leopard is 60 – 70 cm at the shoulder while the height of the jaguar is 63 – 76 cm at the shoulder.
A cheetah usually weighs 21 – 72 kg, and a leopard weighs around 31 kg, while a jaguar weighs 56 – 96 kg.
The cheetah has an upper coat of fur that is tawny, pale buff, or grayish-white, with underparts that are paler and whiter; the base color of the leopard’s coat is cream-yellow on the belly and it darkens slightly to an orange-brown on the back, while the jaguar has tawny-colored fur with black rosettes, but some have black-on-black, or melanistic, coloration.
The lifespan of the cheetah is 10-12 years, the lifespan of the leopard is 12-17 years while the lifespan of the jaguar is 12-15 years.
In brief, the cheetah, leopard, and jaguar are three types of spotted big cats of the family Felidae. While the cheetah belongs to the genus Acinonyx and the leopard and jaguar belong to the genus Panthera. However, the cheetah is the fastest, the leopard is the most widespread, and the jaguar is the largest among them. Therefore, the main difference between cheetah leopard and jaguar is their characteristics.
- Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. (n.d.). Cheetah. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved August 30, 2022
- Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. (n.d.). Leopard. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved August 30, 2022
- Encyclopædia Britannica, inc. (n.d.). Jaguar. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved August 30, 2022
- “TheCheethcat” By James Temple – Own Work (CC BY 2.0) via Commons Wikimedia
- “Nagarhole Kabini Karnataka India, Leopard September 2013” By Srikaanth Sekar – Own Work (CC By-SA-2.0) via Commons Wikimedia
- “Standing jaguar” By USFWS – Own Work (Public Domain) via Commons Wikimedia