Like most leopards, the beautiful amur leopard is known for its skillful hunting, quick speed, and bold ‘spots’. But there are some things that make it stand out from other leopards, including the fact that it is an endangered animal. Find out more in this lesson on the amur leopard.

Snow Loving Leopard

When it’s cold outside, you probably want to put on a nice big coat to keep you toasty. The amur leopard does too because it lives in snowy, chilly parts of Russia and China. For the winter, it has a thick, long coat of light colored fur and changes to short, brownish-red fur for the warmer summer months.

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Amur leopard fur is light in the winter and reddish-brown in the summer.
fur

Looks and Sounds

All leopards have spots, called rosettes, but the amur leopard’s spots are bigger than most, spaced farther apart, and have a dark ring around them. This is one way you can tell them apart from other leopards.

The red spot on this map shows the small area where the amur leopard lives.
map

The amur leopard’s voice is another thing that makes it special. You’ve probably heard a tiger, lion, or leopard roar. Instead of a roar, the amur leopard makes a rasping sound, kind of like a low growl.

Hunting and Eating

The amur leopard’s legs are also longer than most leopards. It can run up to 37 mph, jump up 10 feet, and leap forward over 19 feet. These skills make it a great hunter. When hungry, the amur leopard stalks its prey by quietly following it then attacking when ready, hunting mostly at night. It prefers to eat roe deer and sika deer but also eats wild boar, hares, badgers, and raccoon dogs. It uses its large teeth and strong tongue that has little hooks on it to scrape meat from the animals’ bones. If the leopard does not finish his meal, he will drag it to a hiding place to eat later. You might similarly hide your favorite food in the refrigerator so no one else will eat it!

The amur leopard is a strong, fast, stalking hunter.
snow

The amur leopard likes to hunt alone and live alone. When about three or four years old, however, the male finds find a mate, who gives birth to 1-4 baby cubs at a time. Young cubs live with their mother until they are about two years old and then live independently. This would be impossible for a person! But at age two the amur leopard can hunt and take care of itself.

Protecting the Amur Leopard

Because the amur leopard is so large and strong, it is at the top of its food chain and does not have natural predators (animals that eat it). However, it is critically endangered, which means it is at a high risk for dying out, mostly from things people do. Cutting down many trees for logging, changing forest into farmland, and poaching (killing it for its beautiful fur) are examples. Forest fires also threaten the amur leopard by destroying its land and killing its prey. Fewer animals to eat means the leopards sometimes attack farm animals, which causes farmers to shoot at the leopards.

The good news is that people are becoming better at keeping the amur leopard alive by protecting their land and learning more about them. In fact, in 2007, there were only 35 known amur leopards in the wild, but in 2013 this number increased to 70. When protected, they can survive 10-15 years in the wild and 20 years in captivity, as in zoos.

Summary

The amur leopard lives in snowy parts of Russia and China. It is critically endangered. It has rosettes on reddish-brown fur in the summer and lighter, thicker winter fur. It is a strong, fast stalking hunter and eats roe deer, sika deer, and other animals. It likes to live alone.