Rosette (zoology)

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Rosettes of a jaguar

A rosette is a rose-like marking or formation found on the fur and skin of some animals, particularly cats.[1][2] Rosettes are used to camouflage the animal, either as a defense mechanism or as a stalking tool. Predators use their rosettes to simulate the different shifting of shadows and shade, helping the animals to remain hidden from their prey. Rosettes can be grouped in clusters around other spots, or may appear as blotches on the fur.

Leopard with rosette pattern displayed.
Dark coated jaguar with visible rosettes.


The leopard (Panthera pardus) has a wide variety of coat coloration. On each color variation, the leopard has rosette patterns on their backs, flanks, and limbs. They also have patterns that are considered to be spots and not rosettes on their heads, stomach, and limbs. [3]


Like the leopard, the jaguar (Panthera onca) has a wide variety of coat coloration. The jaguar can have a coat in colors ranging from white to black with the most common residing in brownish yellow area. These big cats have rosettes on their bodies in random combination and pattern. [4]

Lion (cub)[edit]

Young lion (Panthera leo) cubs have rosette patterns on their legs and abdomen regions. These rosettes usually do not transfer into adult hood and fade as the cub ages. However, some mature lions may keep traces of their rosette patterns throughout life. [5] For the lion cub, the rosette

Lion cub with rosettes on both legs and abdomen.

marking act as camouflage in long grasses and bushes. [6]

Bengal Cat[edit]

Bengal cat, rosettes seen in midsection.

The bengal cat (Felis catus x Prionailurus bengalensis) is a descendent from a combination of domestic cats and Asian leopard lineage. This domesticated cat has a distinct coat pattern with a combination of rosettes, spots, and stripes. [7]


Cheetah with identifiable spots and no rosettes.

While individual cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) do have distinct and identifiable coat patterns like leopards or jaguars, the cheetah’s patterns are considered to be spots, not rosettes.[8]


Ocelot, rosettes displayed on back and sides.
Tan colored jaguar with rosettes displayed.

Ocelots (leopardus pardalis) have a coat pattern that may look like rosettes, however is considered to be a combination of spots and stripes. [9]

List of felids with rosettes[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Schneider, Alexsandra (2012). "How the Leopard Hides Its Spots: ASIP Mutations and Melanism in Wild Cats". PLOS ONE. PLOS. 7 (12): e50386. Bibcode:2012PLoSO...750386S. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0050386. PMC 3520955. PMID 23251368.
  2. ^ a b John Hampden Porter (1894). Wild beasts; a study of the characters and habits of the elephant, lion, leopard, panther, jaguar, tiger, puma, wolf, and grizzly bear. New York, C. Scribner's sons. p. 239.
  3. ^ Macdonald, D.W., ed. (2009). "The Princeton encyclopedia of mammals: Leopard". Windmill Books (Andromeda International). Retrieved 2022-10-10.
  4. ^ Macdonald, D.W., ed. (2009). "The Princeton encyclopedia of mammals: Other big cats". Windmill Books (Andromeda International. Retrieved 2022-10-25.
  5. ^ Macdonald, D.W. (ed.). "The Princeton encyclopedia of mammals: Lion". Windmill Books (Andromeda International). Retrieved 2022-10-10.
  6. ^ "Let's look at Lions - Learn about the African Lion". ALERT. Retrieved 2022-11-21.
  7. ^ Butler, S., ed. (2017). "Macquarie Dictionary: Bengal Cat" (7th ed.). Macquarie Dictionary Publishers. Retrieved 2022-10-10.
  8. ^ Macdonald, D.W., ed. (2009). "The Princeton encyclopedia of mammals: Cheetah". Windmill Books (Andromeda International). Retrieved 2022-10-10.
  9. ^ "Británica concise encyclopedia: ocelot". Británica Digital Learning. 2017. Retrieved 2022-10-10.
  10. ^ Naish, D. "The Pogeyan, a new mystery cat". Retrieved 2009-01-19.
  11. ^ Searle, A. G. (1968). Comparative Genetics of Coat Colour in Mammals. Logos Press, London.