Do you know your big cat species?

tiger roars at another tiger

Big cats are some of the most loved, feared and respected animals on the planet. But how much do you really know about them? Test your knowledge with this fun quiz!

Question 1 of 11

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tiger prowling around bamboo
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What species of cat is not considered a big cat?

The big cats technically include the members of the genus Panthera: the tiger, lion, jaguar and leopard. But most people have expanded that definition to also include the cougar, cheetah and snow leopard. But even in this expanded definition, bobcats don't make the cut.

Question 2 of 11

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black panther resting
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Black panthers are a separate subspecies of leopard with black fur.

Black panthers are simply a melanistic color variant of existing species of jaguars in Central and South America and leopards in Africa and Asia. They have an excess of melanin, which makes them a much darker color. Look closely, though, and you'll still see the typical markings that their lighter family members are famous for.

Question 3 of 11

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big cat teeth showing
Which big cat has the longest canine teeth relative to its body size?

Though it is the smallest of the big cats, the clouded leopard has the longest canines for its size, with adults showing off fangs up to two inches long. Only the extinct sabre-toothed tiger had canines longer relative to its size.

Question 4 of 11

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pride of lions
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All lionesses in a pride are related to one another.

A lion pride varies in number of members based on the availability of food in the territory. Regardless, all the females are typically related, being sisters, aunts, neices or cousins. It is the males of each generation that disperse when they reach adulthood, while the females stay with the pride. There is usually one or two adult males as well.

Question 5 of 11

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profile of lion roaring
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Which big cat species can't roar but can purr?

Only the members of genus Panthera — which includes lions, tigers, leopards and jaguars — can roar. Other large cats don't have the specialized larynx and other unique aspects of the throat that make a roar possible. Instead, cheetahs purr and make chirp-like noises to call each other.

Question 6 of 11

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mountain lion prowls across the snow
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There are 40 different names for a cougar in the English language. Which of these is NOT a true name for a cougar?

The cougar (or puma, or mountain lion, or ...) has earned many names over the centuries. Lexicographers note that "painter" is used mainly in the South as a variant of "panther" and that "catamount" is likely a shortened version of "cat of the mountain." And of course, "ghost cat" is fitting as this silent stalker's stealth is legendary.

Question 7 of 11

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leopard fur pattern
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Leopards and jaguars are distinguished as different species by their coat patterns.

There is a great deal of variation in coat patterns among both jaguars and leopards. As a rule of thumb, a jaguar's rosettes are larger and more squarish than a leopard's rosettes. However, because of the wide range of shades and shapes of the rosettes that can occur across each species, it is difficult to tell if a cat is a leopard or a jaguar based soley on coat pattern.

Question 8 of 11

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big cat paw print in sand
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Which is the only big cat species that cannot fully retract its claws?

The cheetah's semi-retractable claws may be a disadvantage for climbing trees, but they're a big advantage for doing what cheetah's do best: running at blazing-fast speeds. The partially extended claws act like cleats, helping the cats with traction during sprints and in making sharp turns while chasing prey.

Question 9 of 11

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snow leopard in snow
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How far can snow leopards leap in a single bound?

Long and powerful back legs help make the snow leopard an amazing jumper — and it needs to be, considering the steep, rocky terrain where it lives. It can jump as far as 20 feet vertically and 50 feet horizontally while chasing prey. That's some impressive leaping ability!

Question 10 of 11

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liger chewing on a bone
Which of these big cat hybrids doesn't exist?

Any of the four cats belonging to the genus Panthera can interbreed with each other, and some hybrids, like the liger, are well-known. However, the cheetah belongs to its own genus, Acinonyx, and it is the sole member, which means there are no other cat species with which it can interbreed.

Question 11 of 11

Score: 0

lion cub and tiger cub playing together
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Which is the largest of the big cat species?

Tigers are the biggest of the big cats, and the biggest of the tigers is the Siberian or Amur tiger. Males of this subspecies can weigh up to 660 pounds and reach body lengths of up to 10.8 feet. For comparison, the smallest of the tiger subspecies, the Sumatran tiger, the males reach about 310 pounds.

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