Leopard cubs are born with smoky gray coats with indistinct rosettes and are moved from den to den by their mothers until independence at 20 months.
Leopard cubs weigh less than 1 kilogram at birth, and their eyes remain closed for the first week. They have a smoky gray coat and their rosettes are not yet distinct.
Mothers leave their cubs in the protection of dense bush, rock clefts, or hollow tree trunks for up to 36 hours while hunting and feeding. They move den sites frequently, which helps prevent cubs from falling prey to lions (Panthera leo) and other predators. Mothers share less than a third of their food with their cubs.
Cubs learn to walk at 2 weeks of age and regularly leave the den at 6 to 8 weeks old, around which time they begin to eat solid food. Cubs are completely weaned by 3 months old and independent at just under 20 months old. Often, siblings maintain contact during the early years of independence. Territories are flexible and young may linger in their natal area.
• Image | © Tambako The Jaguar, Some Rights Reserved (CC BY-ND 2.0)
• Sources | (African Wildlife Foundation, 2009; Hunt, 2011; Hunter & Hinde, 2005; Macaskill, 2009; Nowell & Jackson, 1996; Stander, Haden, & Kaqece, 1997)