The dark coloration of black leopards is produced by a recessive gene that may be present in either, or both, parents. As a result, it is not uncommon to have normal and dark offspring in the same litter. Although black leopards are dark, their characteristic spots (rosette patterns) are still faintly visible. Often called panthers, they are commonly found in the dense tropical rain forest of Southeast Asia, where their dark coloration acts as camouflage in the low sunlight conditions of the forest floor.
Black leopards reach a body length of 35 to 75 inches and a weight of 60 to 198 pounds, though females are considerably smaller than males. They are solitary hunters that prey on monkeys, baboons, rodents, rabbits and birds. Black leopards are agile hunters with exceptional climbing abilities, who often stalk monkeys in trees. In captivity, they can live up to 20 years. Black leopard populations are extremely threatened by hunting and loss of habitat.