Leopard Back Flips in a Tree to Catch Prey – Yes, a Tree!

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Written by Sharon Parry

Published: November 19, 2023

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© Ingrid Heres/Shutterstock.com

Leopards have a reputation for being excellent climbers and for being superbly agile. However, a backflip in a tree is pretty impressive, and catching a monkey at the same time is even better! This monkey must have assumed it could escape the bigger cat in the higher branches. It could not have been more wrong. Sadly, the primate ended up as a leopard snack.

What Do Leopards Normally Eat?

Leopards are not too fussy when it comes to prey. As a native animal of sub-Saharan Africa, they feed on more than 90 different species. In general, leopards in forests hunt medium to large prey, often including primates such as monkeys. The leopards that live on the savannahs focus more on larger prey. Mandrills and black colobus are among the primates frequently caught by leopards.

These big cats are also willing to pinch prey from other predators. Also, if they come across remains left by other animals, they feast on them.

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They kill their larger prey by asphyxiation and do this by flying a solid bite to the throat. With smaller prey, however, they crush the back of the skull or neck.

Is This How Leopards Normally Behave?

Leopard stalking a herd of Impalas

Leopards usually stalk their prey and break into a short chase.

©Heinrich Neumeyer/Shutterstock.com

It’s not unusual to see leopards in trees. Their bodies have adapted to allow them to scale trees quickly and safely. They have potent forelimbs, and their shoulder blades are significant to help them gain left. Leopards climb trees using a series of bounds, and the forelimbs and the hindlimbs work together. Because they can spring vertically, they reach a long way up the trunk before they have to start climbing!  

It is normal for leopards to hunt alone. They are willing to stalk prey for long distances and do this by crouching close to the ground. After the stalking phase, they break into a short chase. They also ambush prey by hiding amongst dense vegetation. Once leopards have secured their prey, they often remove it to somewhere they feel safer eating it. It’s not unusual for leopards to move their kills several times if they think they will be disturbed by another carnivore. They also hide their kills in the undergrowth or put them in the higher branches of trees.

Is It Normal For Leopards to Eat in Trees?

Leopard on the prowl at Colchester Zoo

Leopards are often known for taking their kill into trees.

©JamesCookPhotography/Shutterstock.com

Leopards like to stay in trees when hunting or eating. Lions and hyenas might steal their food, so leopards often put their kills high in tree branches to keep them safe. Leopards often carry their kills up into a tree to keep them safe from other carnivores. Not many animals can climb as well as leopards can.

Do Leopards Attack Humans?

Yes, leopards do attack humans and, sadly, inflict injuries that are often fatal. Some studies have shown that more than half of the people assaulted by leopards end up dying from their wounds. Most often, death is due to blood loss and trauma in the neck and spinal region.


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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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