Difference between Panthera Onca (Jaguar) vs Panthera Pardua (Leopard)

Key Difference: Both Jaguar and Leopard are from the same Felidae Family, but they are from different species. Jaguar is the Panthera onca species, whereas leopard is the Panthera pardus species.

People experience difficulties in differentiating between the two big cats, Jaguar and leopard. They are of approximately same height and with spots on their bodies, it becomes more difficult for anyone to recognize them. However, the differences among them including their habitat, diet, hunting, style, morphology and vocalization, are something where one can easily discriminate between both.

Jaguar is the third largest cat from all the “big cats”. Jaguars are solitary animals and live and hunt alone, except during mating season. It resembles the leopard, but is larger and has a somewhat shorter tail. The jaguars are seen in many places but it ranges from Southern Mexico to Argentina. Jaguars are outstanding swimmers and climbers. They hunt individually, often springing from trees upon tapirs, capybaras, and peccaries. They either crush or suffocate the prey or bite straight through his skull. They also feed on fish and rabbits; some jaguars kill domestic cattle for food. About 3 and half months after mating, the female gives birth to two to four kittens.

Leopards are often confused with two other spotted cats, cheetahs and jaguars, but the fact is the patterns of spots in each species are different. Leopards have white eye linings under their eyes to help accelerate their vision during night. These differ from a cheetah’s black “tear lines” that help them see during the day under the sun. They look similar to the jaguar, however they are smaller and lighter and the fur patterning is slightly different. Leopards are very adaptable, can exist in a range of different habitats, can hunt and eat many different animals, can run very fast, are very stealthy hunters, and are excellent climbers of trees. Leopards are usually solitary, but highly agile and depend on furtiveness to hunt. Regardless of being smaller in size, this predator is quite capable of taking larger prey, given its massive skull that well utilizes the powerful jaw muscles.

Leopards normally have smaller and rounder rosettes than those of the jaguars. In addition to this, they are slightly smaller and more lightly built as compared to the jaguars. When a leopard and jaguar are compared, it becomes very clear that the resemblance is primarily in the spotted coat.

Comparison between Panthera Onca (Jaguar) and Leopard:


Panthera Onca (Jaguar)

Panthera Pardus (Leopard)


Jaguar is the Panthera Onca species.

Leopard is the Panthera Pardua species.




Scientific Name

Panthera onca

Panthera pardus

















South and Central America

Asia, Africa, and the Middle East

Life time

12 – 15 years (In Wild)

12 to 21 years


From Southwestern United States and Mexico across much of Central America and south to Paraguay and northern Argentina.

Africa and tropical Asia, from Siberia, South and West Asia to across most of sub-Saharan Africa.


Jaguar is the largest wild cat animals of the four big cats.

Leopard is the smallest one of the four big cats


6 feet to 8 feet long

4.25 to 6.25 ft; Tail, 3.5 to 4.5 ft


Weight is 56 to 96 kg, can go up to 160 kg. Females are typically 10–20% smaller than males.

30 to 80 kg; can go up to 100kg.


They will either crush or suffocate and victim or bite straight through his skull.

Leopards will often drag their meal up a tree to eat in seclusion. They will eat anything from beetles to antelope, depending on their habitat.


Its base coat is usually tawny yellow, but can range to reddish-brown and black.

Leopards are distinguished by their rosette covered coat but their rosettes are smaller and more tightly spaced.


Their diet consists of approximately 87 species. It includes Caimans, deer, capybaras, tapirs, peccaries, dogs, foxes, frogs, mice, birds anacondas, cattle,  horses, fish, sloth, monkeys, and turtles, etc.

Elands, monkeys, rodents, reptiles, amphibians, insects, birds, foxes, jackals, martens, gazelles, impala, deer, etc


Jaguar is a very powerful swimmer as compared to leopard.

Leopard is not that powerful swimmer as compared to jaguar.


Favorite prey is herbivores. They stalk their prey.

Kill their prey by a suffocating bite. They too would rather stalk than chase their prey.

Distinguishing differences

Larger and darker rosettes, thicker lines and small spots in the middle. Rounder heads, shorter and stockier limbs. Tiny black dots inside the rosettes.

White moons under the eyes.

Image Courtesy: wallsev.com, commons.wikimedia.org

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