Leopard Seals

Leopard seals are earless seals, and also known as the sea leopards. They are solitary (live on their own), and inhabit Antarctic and sub-Antarctic regions, but can sometimes be found as far north as South America, Australia and New Zealand. They are named for the spotty patterns on their fur. They are known as fierce hunters of prey.

Leopard seals have long, slender bodies and large heads and jaws. The shape of their heads is almost reptilian in appearance. They have large jaws with long and sharply pointed canine teeth, unlike those of most other seals. Males are about 2.8m long and generally weigh 300-600kg, while the females are a bit heavier, between 400-500kg and about 3.5m long.

Leopard seals will eat almost anything and are aggressive hunters. Unlike any other species of seal, they hunt and kill warm-blooded animals, as well as fish and krill. The favorite food of the leopard seal is the penguin. They chase and grab penguins in the water and thrash them to and fro until the skin peels away, then eat the carcass. They also leap onto the ice to grab their prey and return to the water. The only natural predator of the leopard seal is the killer whale.

Because they are solitary animals in a vast, isolated place, very little is known about them, including their breeding. The female leopard seal is pregnant for nine months, and gives birth between November and January. Female leopard seals jump onto the pack ice when it is time to give birth. Baby seals weigh about 40 kg and double in size within the first three months of life. Baby seals are rarely seen.

Elephant seals...Australian fur seals...Weddell Seals...
Crabeater seals


Click here to see photos of Antarctic seals


If you use any part of this, acknowledge it in your bibliography like this:
Antarctic Animals (2002). [Online], Available: www.kidcyber.com.au

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updated July 2007