Many people confuse cheetahs with leopards and leopards with jaguars, but not anymore!
When trying to find out if the cat you are looking at is a cheetah or a leopard, always look for the details! If you can see the cat’s face, then great, you are one step closer to knowing exactly which cat that is. A cheetah will have long dark vertical lines from its eyes down its nose to the corner of its mouth. They are also a lot taller in size with long legs and a thin slender body. Their spots are a little different then a leopard’s as well. A cheetah will have dark black solid spots compared to a leopard that will have what we call rosettes, open spots that are 2-toned.
Now leopards and jaguars can be a little harder! A leopard will have those rosettes, but a jaguar will also have rosettes. The difference is we call a jaguar’s rosettes spotty spots! Inside of their rosettes are one to several spots like a weird target. Jaguars are also a bit bigger than leopards and have more of a boxy shape compared to a slender-looking shape. Another thing you can look at is tail size. A leopard will tend to have a longer tail compared to a jaguar.
What really gets interesting is when you are looking at cats that are both black! You can come across black leopards and black jaguars. It might be a bit difficult to see their spots in that regard, but they are still there. They will shine through that black coat when the sun hits them just perfectly. That’s when you really have to pay attention to other details like size and shape.
Also, if you are in a zoo, look for the area in which they will be located; some zoos have different themed areas. Jaguars are found in Central and South America, while leopards are found more throughout Africa and Asia.
Now when visiting us or visiting a zoo, you can tell exactly what type of cat you might be looking at!