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Leopard, common name for a large member of the cat family that occupies a wide range of habitats and has the most extensive distribution of any of the wild species of cat, occurring throughout much of Africa and Asia. The body of an adult leopard is about 0.91 to 1.91 m (3 to 6.3 ft) long, exclusive of the 1-m (3-ft) tail. Typically the coat is pale tan, and it is marked with broken circles of black spots. Unlike the rosettes of the American jaguar, these circles have no central spot. Specimens with darker ground colors are seen, and some leopards-born in otherwise ordinary litters-are completely black and are known as black panthers.
The leopard is an agile climber and will often stalk monkeys in the trees. It hunts mainly at night. When game is scarce, a leopard will eat field mice, fruit, porcupines, baboons, or arthropods. The female bears one to six young per litter.
The name leopard is also given to other species resembling the true leopard, such as the clouded leopard of southeastern Asia, with cloudlike markings on its grayish to yellowish coat, and the snow leopard of Central Asia. The cheetah is sometimes called the hunting leopard.
Scientific classification: The leopard belongs to the family Felidae. It is classified as Panthera pardus.