Just What are the Differences Between Mountain Leopards and Tigers?
Although you probably wouldn’t expect it, tigers and mountain leopards (also known as snow leopards) are fairly closely related in the genetic sense. However, despite their apparent closeness, there are still several differences between the two animals.
How to tell Mountain Leopards and Tigers Apart
One of the main differences between tigers and mountain leopards is their size. Male tigers can weigh anything between 90kg and an impressive 310kg, while females range between 65kg and 180kg. Both of these far outweigh the mountain leopard, which weighs on average only 32kg. Not including its tail, a mountain leopard is around one meter long, while tigers are 2.5m to 3m long.
2. Location & habitat
Mountain leopards usually live, as the name suggests, in the mountains. They are frequently found in the Himalayas, right up at around 18,000 feet, and they frequent high cliffs and rocky outcrops for their good vantage points. They live higher in the mountains during the summer months and then travel lower during the winter searching for food.
Tigers are very adaptable animals and can live in several different habitats across Asia. They have been found in the rain forest, grasslands, and even swamps.
3. Colour & markings
Probably the easiest way to tell a tiger and a mountain leopard apart is their color and markings. Tigers are well known for their muscular bodies with their vibrant orange and black stripes, while mountain leopards are usually grey and white with rosette markings across their bodies and long, furry tails. Their grey color provides them with excellent camouflage in the rocky and mountainous areas where they live.
They are both fierce hunters, but due to their different locations, mountain leopards and tigers eat different prey -mountain leopards usually eat ibex, deer, camels, and sometimes horses. In contrast, tigers eat water buffalo, wild pigs, antelope, and sometimes cattle.
Mountain leopards and tigers have slightly different gestation periods. Mountain leopards carry their cubs for 101 days, while tigers can carry theirs for anything between 93 and 112.
Tigers usually use a deep growl to communicate with other tigers, and they also hiss, snarl, and produce a sound called a “chuff,” which they use when they are happy.
Mountain leopards, like other animals in the same group, can purr but not roar due to the way that their throat is developed. They also meow, growl, hiss, and moan. While some of these might initially seem quite similar to the sounds that tigers make, there can be no mistaking the difference if you heard them.
7. Climbing ability
Although they certainly possess the ability to do so, tigers rarely climb trees. On the other hand, mountain leopards are excellent climbers and regularly climb trees and rocky cliffs – which is just as well, considering where they live!
Questions & Answers
Question: Are mountain leopards and tigers the same species?
Answer: No, although they belong to the same genus-group – Panthera – mountain leopards and tigers are different species. Mountain leopards are Panthera Uncia, while tigers are Panthera Tigris.
Answer: Although they belong to the same genus-group as leopards – Panthera – they are genetically more closely related to tigers than to actual leopards.
Question: Can mountain leopards and tigers mate?
Answer: There have been some accounts of mountain leopards mating to create hybrid offspring, although the cubs were stillborn in some cases.
Question: Are mountain leopards dangerous?
Answer: Although most wild animals pose some kind of threat, mountain leopards and not usually dangerous to humans and generally do their best to avoid people – running away when they encounter us.
Question: What do mountain leopards eat?
Answer: Mountain leopards usually eat large animals such as ibex, deer, and camels, but they also eat smaller animals such as voles and marmots when the need arises.
Question: How do mountain leopards and tigers kill their prey?
Answer: Tigers usually ambush their prey from behind or the side and clamp their jaws onto their neck as they use their sheer strength and power to pull the animal to the ground. Mountain leopards kill in a similar method, pouncing from behind and killing with one bite to the neck.
Question: Do mountain leopards endangered?
Answer: Although mountain leopards are no longer officially classed as endangered, they are still classed as vulnerable. Their numbers are continuing to decline.
Question: Are tigers endangered?
Answer: Yes, tigers are officially classed as endangered animals, and there are only around 3,500 tigers left in the wild now.
Question: Can tigers and mountain leopards swim?
Answer: Yes, they are excellent swimmers, although the tiger would probably be classed as a better swimmer than a mountain leopard.
Question: Are mountain leopards and snow leopards the same animal?
Answer: Yes, they are the same animal. Mountain leopard is just a common name given to the snow leopard because it is often found in mountainous regions.
Question: Do tigers have any predators?
Answer: The main predator of a tiger is humans, who kill them for use in traditional medicines and their pelts. Bears and elephants can occasionally threaten tigers and crocodiles, and snakes sometimes kill their cubs.
Question: Do mountain leopards have any predators?
Answer: Mountain leopards have no natural predators, although they are killed regularly by humans for their fur and when the leopard has taken livestock from farms.
Question: How many cubs do mountain leopards and tigers have?
Answer: Tigers have between two and four cubs in each litter and generally give birth once every two years. Mountain leopards can have between one and five cubs in each litter, but the average is two or three, and they also usually give birth every two years.
Question: What countries are tigers found in?
Answer: Tigers are found across Asia in India, China, North Korea, and Russia.
Question: What countries are mountain leopards found in?
Answer: Mountain leopards are found in several counties – including China, India, Pakistan, Russia, Mongolia, and Afghanistan.
Question: How many species of tiger are there?
Answer: There are currently five species of tiger left in the world – Bengal, Amur, South China, Indo-Chinese, and Sumatran.