Why Do Leopards Have Spots?

The distinctive markings on leopards act as camouflage, protecting these large cats from predators. These markings are often called spots, but they actually are rosettes. They also appear on so-called black leopards, but the pattern cannot always be seen on the animal's dark fur unless it is in a well-lit area.

More about leopards:

  • Different types of leopards can have distinctly different markings. For example, the markings on a clouded leopard have a marbled appearance.

  • Leopards generally are not interested in eating humans, but there have been rare cases when a leopard has targeted humans for food. This is often because the leopard is elderly or injured and cannot hunt down faster prey.

  • Leopards' beautiful coats make them targets for poachers and hunters, causing the animal's extinction in some countries.

More Info: www.panthera.org

Discussion Comments


The Leopard of Panar was a healthy male leopard who developed a taste for human flesh and ate more than 400 people over a course of several years.

Confirmation that leopard's spots are to allow them to better sneak up on prey rather than protect them.


Leopards are apex predators in their environment. The camouflage has more to do with being able to sneak up on prey rather than hiding them from larger predators. The same evolution gave lions the ability to hide in the dry grasses to sneak up on their prey and made wolves capable of disappearing into the shadows of a forest.

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