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Enneagram Fives: Leopard

Like Enneagram Fives, leopards are naturally solitary and stealthy creatures, secretive and proud, and full of surprises. Here is more information about this mysterious animal. (Am I referring to leopards, Fives, or both!?)

Physical characteristics
The leopard is the smallest of the four “big cats” in the genus panthera, the other three being the tiger, lion, and jaguar. The leopard’s head and body length is between 37 and 65 inches (95 and 165 cm), its tail reaches from 24 to 43 inches (60 to 110 cm), and it has a shoulder height between 18 to 31 inches (45 to 80 cm). Powerful and graceful, the leopard has relatively short legs and a long body with a large skull – they are able to take down large prey due to their massive skulls that facilitate powerful jaw muscles.

Leopards are elusive and largely nocturnal. The most secretive and mysterious of the large carnivores, the leopard is also the shrewdest. Leopards demonstrate incredible strength and athleticism, being able to run in bursts up to 36 miles an hour (58 kilometers per hour), leap 20 feet (6 meters) forward in a single bound, and jump ten feet (3 meters) straight up.

Leopards come in a wide variety of coat colors, from a light buff or tawny in warmer, dryer areas to a dark shade in deep forests. The spots, or rosettes, are circular in East African leopards, but square in southern African leopards.

Unlike other cats, leopards are strong swimmers and are one of the few cats that like water; in fact, they even eat fish or crabs.

Enneagram Commentary: Although Fives come in various sizes (heights, weights, body types, for example), they tend to keep themselves smaller than they actually are by taking up less physical space than others, not emitting a great deal of external energy, and more. Not only are Fives like leopards in this way, Fives are also elusive and mysterious, primarily because they keep themselves to themselves, sharing their verbal and non-verbal reactions less than almost any other Enneagram style. Their more withdrawn nature makes them seem mysterious to others.

Finally, many Fives have hidden talents and attributes that few others know about because Fives don’t share that much information and are reluctant to discuss their hidden talents. Who would guess a leopard could swim!?

Social behavior
There seems to be little or no overlap in territory among males, although overlap exists between the sexes. Each individual has a home range that overlaps with its neighbors; the male’s range is much larger and generally overlaps with those of several females. Leopards continually move about their territory, seldom staying in an area for more than two or three days at a time.

Ranges are marked with urine and claw marks, and leopards announce their presence to other leopards with a rasping cough. Leopards do vocalize, but only with a limited repertoire of verbalized possibilities; they growl, grunt, meow, purr, and roar when they have to.

They have a good sense of smell and also leave claw marks on trees to warn other leopards to stay away. Leopards continually move about their home ranges, seldom staying in an area for more than two or three days at a time. With marking and calling, they usually know one another’s whereabouts. A leopard usually does not tolerate intrusion into its own range except to mate. Unexpected encounters between leopards can lead to fights.

Female leopards can give birth at any time of the year. They usually have two grayish cubs with barely visible spots. The mother hides her cubs and moves them from one safe location to the next until they are old enough to begin playing and learning to hunt. Cubs live with their mothers for about two years; otherwise, leopards are solitary animals.

Enneagram Commentary: Like leopards, Fives guard their own territory quite closely (they don’t like intrusions on their physical space), and most Fives live isolated lives, even to the point of being nomads (a way in which they express their detachment from people, things, and places). Like Fives, leopards keep others away (leopards with claw marks; Fives with non-verbal messages), and Fives like to know exactly where others are in physical relation to them. I know many Fives who insist on sitting at a restaurant table where they can have their back to the wall, so they can observe who might be approaching them.

Predatory behavior
The leopard is a cunning, stealthy hunter, and its prey ranges from strong-scented carrion, fish, reptiles, and birds to mammals such as rodents, hares, hyraxes, warthogs, antelopes, monkeys, and baboons.

Leopards are agile, stalking their prey silently, then pouncing on it at the last minute and strangling its throat with a quick bite. Pound for pound, it is the strongest climber of the large cats and capable of killing prey larger than itself. Leopards can also hunt from trees, where their spotted coats allow them to blend with the leaves until they spring with a deadly pounce.

The leopard is so strong and comfortable in trees that it often hauls its kill into the branches. A leopard can climb as high as 50 feet (15 meters) up a tree holding a dead animal in its mouth, even one larger and heavier than itself! They stash food up high so other predators, such as lions or hyenas, can’t get it. Then, leopards can return and eat more. One leopard was spotted dragging a 220-pound (100-kilogram) young giraffe into heavy brush to hide it.

Enneagram Commentary: Fives are not exactly predatory in the same sense as leopards that prey on animals in order to eat, but Fives in no way want to be another’s prey (organizationally, psychologically, interpersonally). When Fives feel threatened (whether this is an imaginary or real threat), they take precise and carefully planned precautions, and these can include aggressive behaviors toward others, even though the Five perceives this as a defensive rather than an offensive action.

In addition, the strength of Fives is often underestimated. They may keep to themselves and not display all their agility, skills, and intellectual prowess, but Fives are highly resourced and can access these when needed.

Leopard joke
Question: How does a leopard change his spots?
Answer: When it gets tired of one spot, it just moves to another.

Enneagram Commentary: Fives do this. When they want to not deal with someone or something, their first impulse is to move. They move inside themselves, leave a conversation, or sever a relationship.

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Uranio Paes
Uranio Paes
9 years ago

I need to go meet one of this soul brothers! Thanks, Ginger, for the thoughtful, interesting and informative blog (I know you know these are top compliments for a Five)!

Stela Klein
Stela Klein
5 years ago

This is sooooo me! Great article, Ginger!

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