55 Facts about Snow Leopards
Facts about Snow Leopards 1-10
- The scientific name for the snow leopard is Uncia Uncia.
- It is a descendant of the wild cat and panther families.
- Native to the rugged and snowy highlands of Central Asia, the endangered snow leopard is particularly found in the Himalaya region.
- China holds 60% of the snow leopard population.
- They are widely spread over Central and South Asia in countries like Pakistan, Nepal, Afghanistan, India, Mongolia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Bhutan, Russia and Kazakhstan.
- They prefer living in ridges, cliffs and rock outcrops. These locations are convenient because they provide camouflage for stalking and sneaking up on prey.
- They are found in altitudes as high as 3500 meters above sea level.
- In summer, the snow leopard may climb higher to cooler altitudes of as high as 5000 meters above sea level!
- They are one of the most beautiful creatures in the world. They have gorgeous smoky-grey coats, patterned with black spots and rosettes.
- The fur on their belly is about 5 inches thick!
11. Snow leopards are generally smaller than most cats, weighing only about 30-55 kg.
12. In length, they measure about 80-135 cm long.
13. At shoulder, they stand at almost 2 meters tall!
14. The tail of a snow leopard is almost as long as its body.
15. Having a long furry tail is one of their unique aspects. The tail aids in balancing when walking over steep and narrow ledges.
16. Why is the tail so thick and furry? Unlike most wild cats, the snow leopard lives in very harsh cold climate so its tail acts as a muffler to shield its nose and mouth.
17. The female is about 30% smaller than the male.
18. They have well-adapted paws for walking on snow and even wading across thick snow cover.
19. They very closely resemble the leopards.
20. Often described as shy creatures, they are rarely seen out in the open.
Facts about Snow Leopards 21-30
21. When they sense human presence, they become nocturnal animals to avoid unnecessary encounters with humans that may be a threat or danger.
22. Because of being reserved creatures, they are very mysterious and very little is known about them.
23. They are very independent and solitary creatures, living alone most of the time and only socializing during the mating season.
24. In areas where prey is abundant, they are closely packed within a near range of 30-65 km.
25. In contrast, areas with flat terrain, may not host a lost of prey but they offer protective travelling routes and snow leopards are widely distributed over an area of 1000 km.
26. Areas with little or no shrubbery for example the Tibetan Plateau contain many ridges and rocky cliffs that offer protective traveling routes for snow leopards.
27. Unlike other big cats, the snow leopard is a non-aggressive animal that when threatened by another predator, may choose to back away, leaving its well-earned kill to be finished by the invader.
28. Reports of snow leopards attacking or killing humans are unheard of; in fact, snow leopards are known to avoid human presence than any other big cat.
29. They may only become aggressive to defend themselves or their cubs when threatened.
30. Being an agile hunter, they are known to stealthily attack prey from behind, lunging for it in one go and tearing it to shreds.
31. Feeding on a variety of herbivores that are found in their mountain range habitats, the snow leopards are the only known opportunistic predators among big cats.
32. Their common prey include gazelles, deer, wild goats, sheep, snow cocks, pikas, rodents like hares, mice and rabbits, markhor, bobak, tahr, marmots, and wild boars.
33. Ones that live in the Himalayan mountain ranges mainly feed on the bharals also known as the Himalayan blue sheep.
34. In winter, when large herds of herbivores migrate to warmer places with rich pastures, the snow leopard may encroach on corrals and kill off all the domestic animals in one go.
35. In average twice in a month, they may hunt large mammals and feed off their flesh for several days.
36. After hunting down an animal, some drag their food into snow tunnels for storage and safe keeping.
37. Goats and sheep are their most common prey.
38. They eat slowly and a kill may last for 2 to 3 days.
39. They usually have spots on a less-dense thin coat in summers.
40. Their gestation period is about 3-3½ months.
41. A female searches for well-sheltered rock crevices as convenient and safe locations for giving birth without having to be alert all the time in case of any possible danger.
42. An average female gives birth to a litter consisting 1 to 5 cubs.
43. The cubs do not open their eyes until they are 7 years old.
44. The young cubs live with their mothers until two years of age, which is about the same time they eat solid food.
45. During the time spent with their mothers, cubs learn how to hunt down prey and their mothers teach them handy hunting skills for survival.
46. By the end of 2 years, the cubs are already old enough to leave their mothers and live independent lives.
47. A mother may find it hard to feed her cubs and in some cases, the cubs may die to due to starvation.
48. Most cubs do not reach adulthood due to many natural and even man-made reasons like habitat destruction.
49. An average snow leopard lives between 15 to 18 years of age but some snow leopards bred in captivity are said to have lived up to 21.
50. They use scent markings to track and find mates.
51. Like most other big cats, the snow leopard frequently patrols its territory, renewing its scent markings by scratching on the ground with its hind legs, spraying urine on important landmarks like prominent rocks and fallen trees, and depositing feces around its claimed land.
52. They have unique pale green or gray eyes that are very unusual for most cats.
53. They are on the brink of extinction. Today, only 6000 snow leopards are surviving in the wild.
54. A major reason for their endangerment is that they are excessively hunted for their organs, fur and claws that are valuable in Chinese medicine.
55. However there is still a ring of hope for a few of the surviving snow leopards. A countable population of these big cats have been discovered living in 16 locations in the Wakhan Corridor in north eastern Afghanistan.
People who read this, also read:
- The Endangered Snow Leopard
Less than 6000 snow leopards survive in the world today, with many held for exhibition in zoos and others confined to protected areas. Spreading awareness of endangered species helps contribute to their survival.