Skip to main content
sdzglibrarybanner San Diego Zoo Global Library

Leopard (Panthera pardus) Fact Sheet: Diet & Feeding

Diet

Carnivores

  • Consume a wide range of prey items
    • > 90 species in sub-Saharan Africa (Henschel et al. 2008)
    • Diet variable across distribution range
  • Size variation in prey by habitat
    • Forests
      • Medium to large size prey preferred; 10-40 kg (22-88 lb); often primates (Henschel et al. 2011; Hayward et al. 2006; Hunter et al. 2013)
    • Savannahs
      • Larger prey; 20-80 kg (44-176 lb) (Hayward et al. 2006)
    • Western Cape mountains, South Africa
      • Small prey (eg. rock hyrax) (Martins et al. 2011)
  • Common prey species by locality
    • Iran
      • Wild sheep (Ovis orientalis); pig (Sus scrofa); and goat (Capra aegagrus) (Taghdisi et al 2013)
    • India
      • Primarily ungulates (Harihar et al. 2011; Mondal et al. 2011; Selvan et al. 2013)
      • Sambar (Rusa unicolor); chital (Axis axis); wild pig (Sus scrofa); cattle; barking deer (Muntiacus muntjak); gaur (Bos garus); porcupine; rodents; birds; civet (Harihar et al. 2011; Selvan et al. 2013)
    • Africa
      • Rainforests
        • Ungulates (primarily 'red' duikers and red river hogs); primates (mandrill and black colobus); large rodents (brush-tailed porcupine); pangolins; small carnivores (Henschel et al. 2011)
      • Savanna
        • Ungulates (duiker primarily; steenbok and eland); aardwolf; felids (cheetah and African wild cat); canids (bat-eared fox); snakes (python) (Stander et al. 1997)
      • Mountains
        • Small ungulates (klipspringer; grey duiker); livestock; rock hyrax; porcupine (Martins et al. 2011)

Scavenged food (Bailey 1993)

  • Appropriate prey from other predators on occasion
  • Consume putrefied items

Feeding

Hunting for food

  • Mothers with cubs forage alone (Stander et al. 1997)
    • She consumes a small amount before retrieving cubs and leading them to the kill

Securing food

  • Often climb trees with kill to avoid kleptoparasitism by others (Hunter et al. 2013)

Feeding behaviors

  • Pluck fur or feathers prior to eating (Bailey 1993; Hunter et al. 2013)
  • Begin eating at rump or groin (Bailey 1993; Hunter et al. 2013)
  • Bones not consumed (unlike dogs/canids)

Estimated daily consumption

  • Reports vary, select examples given below:
    • Female with cubs: 1.6-4.9 kg (3.5-10.8 lb) (Stander et al. 1997)
    • c. 4 kg (nearly 9 lb), one study of males and females in subtropical forest of Nepal (Odden and Wegge 2009)

Amur (P.p. orientalis) Subspecies

Diet diverse, as with all leopards (from Kelly et al. 2013)

  • Medium-sized ungulates primarily
    • Roe and sika deer

Page Citations

Bailey (1993)
Harihar et al. (2011)
Hayward et al. (2006)
Henschel et al. (2008)
Henschel et al. (2011)
Hunter et al. (2013)
Kelly et al. (2013)
Martins et al. (2011)
Mondal et al. (2011)
Odden and Wegge (2009)
Selvan et al. (2013)
Stander et al. (1997)
Taghdisi et al. (2013)

SDZG Library Links