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Uploaded:2015-07-27
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Can you tell a leopard from a jaguar? How are lions different from tigers -- other than those stripes? Jessi introduces you to the four big cats!
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(Lion roar sound)

Whoa, Squeaks, who knew a rat could roar like a lion? Hi guys, Squeaks and I were just working on our big cat roars. And when I say big cat I don't mean your neighbors really fat pet cat, I mean a big wild cat. Like one of these guys. Not all wild cats are considered big cats though. So how do you spot the difference between a regular wild cat, like a serval, and a true big cat, like a lion? I'll tell you.

Wildlife experts say that there are four main groups of big cats: lions, tigers, leopards, and jaguars. But the easiest way to tell if a wild cat is a big cat is to ask, "Can it roar?" Only true big cats have the ability to roar. Other wild cats can growl, but they don't quite roar like these four do. Like all wild cats big cats are carnivores, meaning they eat other animals. They're skilled hunters and need lots of land to roam and lots of prey to eat. Even though big cats have a lot in common, if you know what to look for you'll be able to tell them apart in no time.

Lets start with the lions. You can only find these guys in Africa. Lions have light brown fur with a little tuft of black fur that ends at their tails. Male lions have shaggy manes that make them look a lot bigger than the females.

Most cats prefer to spend time alone, but not lions. Lions are the only cats that live in groups. A group of lions is called a pride. Lions even hunt in these groups. Their preferred snacks are zebras, wildebeests, and African buffalo. Lions move fast when they hunt and they can jump really, really far. A lion can leap more than ten meters in one bound. That's as long as a school bus.

Tigers are just as impressive as lions. They're the biggest of the big cats. A Siberian tiger can be twice as big as an African lion. You can find all kinds of tigers throughout the continent of Asia. They live the farthest north of all the big cats.

I'm pretty sure that you know what these cats look like. Most tigers are orange with black stripes in their bodies. In fact, tigers are the only big cat to have stripes. These markings help them blend in with the tall grasses as they sneak up on their prey, usually deer or water buffalo.

Another cool thing about tigers: they can swim. Some have even been spotted crossing lakes carrying heavy prey in their mouths. (2:22)

Our last two groups of big cats are probably the easiest to mix up because they look a lot alike: Leopards and Jaguars. Both of these big cats have yellowish coats with dark spots on them called Rosettes. But a Jaguar's rosettes have at least one black dot in the center while Leopard's don't.

So it might be pretty hard to tell apart a Leopard and a Jaguar, unless you check them out at close, which I don't recommend.
But it's easy to know which is which if you know what part of the world they live in. Leopards have the biggest range of all the big cats. That means they live across the widest areas and they can be found throughout Africa and Asia.

And Leopards are the smallest of the big cats but they're not that small. They can weigh up to eighty (80) kilograms
and get nearly two meters long. That's about the size of a full-grown man.

Like all big cats, they're excellent hunters and prey on animals like Impalas, monkeys and even porcupines. Leopards are also the strongest climbers of all the cats and can carry an animal twice their size up a tree to munch on or save for later.

Jaguars on the other hand are a little bigger than Leopards and they live in a totally different part of the world, in the rainforests and grasslands of central and south America. And they often hunt animals that live in the water, like crocodiles and fish. So, as you can imagine, like tigers, Jaguars are really good swimmers.

So now, if you happen to bump into a big cat, you can tell what kind it is. But Lions, Tigers, Leopards and Jaguars are only four of more than thirty species of cats on our planet. Other wildcats might not be quite as large as the big cats but they're just as amazing. From Caracals, to Ocelots, to Lynxes, there are so many more cool cats to learn about.

If you'd like us to hunt down some information about wildcats or anything, just let us know by leaving a comment or emailing us at kids@theshishow.com . Thanks for joining us on SciShow kids and we'll see you next time.