Big Cats

Big Cats And Their Habits: A Guide For Kids Learning

Updated on July 5, 2024

Welcome to the exciting world of big cats! In the wild, there are some really big cats! They are carnivores, which means they eat meat. Some of these cats can roar very loudly, while others can even purr just like your pet cat at home! Some of these big cats like to live with their friends, but others like to be by themselves. Let’s learn about the biggest cats in the world and how we can tell them apart!

Big Cats And Their Habits

These majestic creatures are some of the most fascinating animals on the planet. From the powerful roar of the lion to the stealthy climb of the leopard, big cats have captured our imaginations for centuries. In this adventure, we will explore the different types of big cats, where they live, what they eat, and some fun facts about these incredible creatures. Get ready to discover the wild world of big cats!

Lion

Lion Profile

Pride is a group of lions that live together. A pride typically consists of 15 or more big cats, mostly female lionesses, and 1 or 2 male lions. The lionesses in a pride are often related to each other, and they stay together for their whole lives. Male lions, on the other hand, live in pride for only 2-4 years before leaving on their own or being forced out by another male lion.

Lion Big Cat

In pride, the lionesses are responsible for most of the hunting and caring for the young. At night, lions hunt for food, which can include zebras, deer, antelopes, buffalos, and even giraffes! Male lions are usually larger than lionesses, weighing between 300 to 500 pounds, while lionesses weigh between 250 to 400 pounds. Lions are typically around 5-7 feet long, not including their tails.

The most notable feature of a male lion is its mane. The mane is a large growth of hair around the male lion’s neck and head, which makes it easy to tell the difference between male lions and lionesses. The mane serves as protection during fights with other male lions and also helps to attract females during mating season.

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Tiger

Tiger Profile

The tiger holds the title of being the biggest wild cat on Earth, while the lion takes second place. An average tiger weighs around 450 pounds and is 6 feet long. Tigers are solitary creatures and tend to hunt at night. They enjoy eating various animals such as antelopes, camels, yaks, wild horses, monkeys, porcupines, and fish.

Tiger Big Cat

Tigers are unique because, unlike most cats, they enjoy swimming. They are fantastic swimmers! These magnificent creatures can be found in Africa, Asia, and India. Tigers are renowned for their beautiful stripes, which serve as camouflage. Most tigers have an orange coat with black stripes, although some have white fur with black stripes. The stripes help tigers blend in with tall grass, which is perfect for hunting, but not for their prey!

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Cheetah

Cheetah Profile

The cheetah holds the title of the fastest land animal on Earth. It can sprint up to 70 miles per hour and run at a steady pace of 46 miles per hour for long distances. To put that into perspective, the fastest human in the world, Usain Bolt, can only run up to 23 miles per hour, which is less than half the speed of an average cheetah!

Cheetah Big Cat

Cheetahs are 3 and a half to 5 feet long and weigh between 80-140 pounds. They are mainly active during the day and live and hunt in open grasslands and bushy areas. Due to their spotted coats, it can be hard to spot cheetahs in tall grass because they blend in so well.

When it comes to food, cheetahs eat a variety of animals such as hares, impalas, wildebeest, antelope, and gazelles. Hunting for their prey is hard work, and a cheetah often has to run extremely hard and fast to catch it. After a successful hunt, the cheetah needs to take a break to catch its breath before it can enjoy its meal.

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Jaguars

Jaguar Profile

Jaguars are the largest cats in South America and are the third largest cats in the world. They have yellow and tan fur with black markings called “rosettes”, which are named after roses because of their similar appearance. Some jaguars are entirely black, but you can still see their spots if you look closely.

Jaguar Big Cat

Jaguars love to swim and often hunt for fish, turtles, and caimans in rivers. They also like to eat deer, peccaries, capybaras, and tapirs. They range in length from three and a half to six feet and weigh an average of 220 pounds. Interestingly, jaguars have the smallest tails of any big cat.

You can tell the difference between a jaguar and a cheetah because cheetahs have “tear marks” under their eyes, which jaguars do not have. Additionally, jaguars are much larger than cheetahs, and their fur has rosettes, while cheetahs have spots.

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Mountain Lion

Mountain Lion Profile

The mountain lion is a large, tawny-coloured cat that can be found all over North and South America. This type of cat is known by many names, such as cougar, panther, and puma. While they don’t roar, female mountain lions can produce a loud scream that is thought to be used to attract mates. Mountain lion cubs are born with spots that usually disappear within 9 months, and their blue eyes change to yellow by 16 months. By the time they are 18 months old, the cubs leave their mother to start hunting on their own. Mountain lions are opportunistic hunters and will eat anything from insects to large mammals like deer. These big cats can grow to be between 3 and 5 feet long, with males being larger and weighing over 200 pounds, while females weigh around 150 pounds.

Mountain Lion Big Cat

Leopards

Leopard Profile

Leopards are known to frequent the trees of Africa, Central Asia, India and China, although they are not exclusively arboreal creatures, they do enjoy climbing. Similar to jaguars, leopards can exhibit tan fur with rosettes, or be entirely black. One way to distinguish a leopard from a jaguar is by their size; jaguars are larger, more robust and have wider heads than leopards. Furthermore, these big cats inhabit distinct continents. Leopards are solitary animals and their cubs stay with their mother for the first two years before becoming independent. The average weight of a leopard ranges from 60-175 pounds, and it can grow up to 3-6 feet long. Their diet consists of gazelles, antelope, wildebeest, aardvarks, monkeys, jackals and more, enabling them to attain their substantial size.

Mountain Lion Big Cat
Mountain Lion

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Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard Profile

The Snow Leopard is an impressive large cat that can be found in the mountains of Central and South Asia. It measures about 4-5 feet in length and can weigh between 60 to 120 pounds. Despite its name, it’s not closely related to a leopard but rather to a tiger. Snow leopards have thick grey and white fur with black spots and rosettes. They have small round ears to minimize heat loss and giant paws that serve as furry snowshoes. They also have a beautiful thick tail that they can wrap around themselves like a blanket when sleeping. These big cats are mostly solitary, except for female snow leopards raising their cubs. Each snow leopard has a large territory and hunts for various prey, including animals much larger than themselves, such as horses and camels. Snow leopards also feed on smaller prey such as sheep, birds, and rodents.

Snow Leopard Big Cat
Snow Leopard

Why is it that some cats roar while others purr?

Can you guess which of these majestic felines are capable of roaring? We all know that Lion can certainly let out a mighty roar, but what about the others? And why is it that some cats roar while others purr? The answer lies in the unique shape of their vocal cords. In larger cats, the vocal cords are structured differently, allowing them to produce a much louder vibration than a typical purr. In fact, a lion’s roar can reach over 100 decibels! However, most of the big cats that can roar only do so on rare occasions. While lions, tigers, jaguars, and leopards are all capable of roaring, it is mostly the lions that do so regularly. On the other hand, the smaller big cats such as cheetahs, mountain lions, and snow leopards make a variety of different sounds, including purrs!

Conclusion

In conclusion, big cats are some of the most amazing and majestic animals on our planet. Each species is unique and has its own special characteristics, from the powerful roar of the lion to the snow leopard’s fuzzy tail that doubles as a blanket. These cats have adapted to survive in a variety of habitats, and their hunting abilities are awe-inspiring. We must do all we can to protect these incredible creatures and ensure that they continue to thrive in the wild for future generations to enjoy. So let’s all do our part to help preserve these big beautiful cats and the habitats they call home.

Have you ever seen any of the big cats mentioned above?

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Read More From National Geographic For Kids

Lion | Tiger | Cheetah | Jaguar | Mountain Lion | Leopard | Snow Leopard

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