50+ Facts About Snow Leopards

Updated on December 29, 2018
Source

Quick Facts

Scientific Name: Panthera uncia (formerly Uncia uncia)

Classification: Mammal

Size: 2 ft (0.6 m) tall; 3-5 ft (0.91–1.51 m) from head to base of tail

Weight: 60–120 lbs (27–54 kg)

Diet: Carnivore (typically blue sheep and mountain ibexes)

Habitat: Mountains of Central Asia (from India to Russia)

Lifespan: Typically 15–18 years (up to 25 years)

IUCN Conservation Status: Vulnerable (population still declining)

Population, Habitat, and Range

1. The scientific name for the snow leopard is Panthera uncia. Previously classified in the genus Uncia, recent genetic testing has resulted in a taxonomical shift to the genus Panthera, which consists of other true big cats like lions, tigers, leopards, and jaguars.

2. In 2016, an estimated 4,500–8,000 snow leopards are left in the wild—much larger than previously thought (4,000–6,500 in 2003).

3. Their population is still considered to be declining, although they have been upgraded from Endangered to Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (last assessed Nov. 2016).

4. China is said to hold 60% of the snow leopard population—mostly along its far western border and across the Himalayas (see table below).

5. Their preferred habitat consists of rocky and rugged terrain in alpine territories. In the summer, they live at an altitude of 9,800–19,700 ft (3,000–6,000 m)—above the tree lines. In the winter, they can be found as low as 4,000 ft (1,200 m).

6. The rocks and snow provide an excellent background and environment for them to hide in.

7. Although concentrated mostly in Central Asia, they have a widespread distribution and can be found in countries like India, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan Afghanistan, China, Mongolia, Kazakhstan Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Russia.

8. They prefer living in ridges, cliffs and rock outcrops. These locations are convenient because they provide camouflage for stalking and sneaking up on prey.

Estimated Snow Leopard Population by Country

Country
Estimated Population
Afghanistan
100–200
Bhutan
100–200
Burma
China
2,000–2,500
India
200–600
Kazakhstan
180–200
Kyrgyzstan
900–1,400
Mongolia
500–1,000
Nepal
350–500
Pakistan
250–420
Russia
50–150
Tajikistan
120–300
Uzbekistan
10–50
Data from http://snowleopardconservancy.org/kids/text/livingwild.htm
Click thumbnail to view full-size
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source

Biology and Unique Features

9. Although they share a similar name and appearance with the common leopard (Panthera pardus), genetic studies have suggested that snow leopards are more closely related to the tiger (Panthera tigris).

10. Despite the genetic similarities with tigers, snow leopards cannot roar. Instead, they chuff, growl, hiss, mew, and wail.

11. Snow leopards are smaller than other true big cats, weighing only about 27–54 kg.

12. They measure about 91–151 cm long and stand at almost 2 ft tall at the shoulders.

13. They are stocky but muscular and have short limbs—all adaptations for traversing mountainous terrain and hunting their prey.

14. The female is about 30% smaller than the male.

15. Their fur is white/gray with black spots and rosettes throughout their body. The belly tends to be mostly white. They have dense fur, with hairs ranging from 2–5 in long.

16. One of its unique and distinguishing features is its long, furry tail, which helps it walk, run, and leap through the rough terrain. It can also use its tail to blanket its face when resting.

17. They also have specially adapted paws that act like snowshoes to prevent the from sinking in deep snow.

18. Because of their cold, mountainous habitat, they've developed shorter ears for less heat dissipation. They also have wide nostrils to efficiently warm the air as it passes through, increasing the oxygen content of the thin air.

19. They are not known to be aggressive toward humans, although they will defend their territory and cubs.

20. Often described as shy creatures, adults are mostly solitary and are rarely seen out in the open.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source

Snow Leopards Playing in the Snow

Behavior

21. As they travel, they scent mark their territory and travel routes, often by scratching themselves on rocks or spraying urine.

22. They are crepuscular, meaning they are most active during dusk and dawn.

23. Adult males tend to be independent and solitary, only socializing during mating season, while adult females tend to stay with their cubs.

24. In areas where prey is abundant, they are closely packed within a range of 30–65 km. In contrast, in flat terrain, where prey may be less abundant, snow leopards are distributed over an area of 1,000 km.

25. They tend to travel along areas with little or no shrubbery—for example, the Tibetan Plateau—which contains many ridges and rocky cliffs that offer protective covering.

26. 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.

27. When they sense human presence, they become nocturnal animals to avoid unnecessary encounters with humans that may be a threat or danger.

28. Reports of attacks on humans are rare, although they may become aggressive to defend themselves or their cubs when threatened.

29. They stalk their prey from higher grounds, preferring to attack from above. They can be seen chasing prey down steep slopes.

30. They use the gray, broken rocks along the mountainside as cover and camouflage.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Snow leopard of the zoo of Zurich eating some meat.
Snow leopard of the zoo of Zurich eating some meat.
Snow leopard of the zoo of Zurich eating some meat. | Source
Source
Source
Source
Source

Hunting and Diet

31. Snow leopards are the only known opportunistic predators among big cats, meaning they will hunt and eat whatever is most readily available.

32. They can hunt prey up to three times their bodyweight.

33. Their common prey include Himalayan blue sheep, mountain ibexes, markhors, and argali. They prefer bigger prey but will also hunt birds, marmots, voles, and rabbits.

34. Snow leopards tend to hunt alone, although when mating, they can hunt as pairs.

35. Larger prey provide enough food for a family, or for an adult male to feed on over several days.

36. After hunting down an animal, some drag their food into snow tunnels for storage and safe keeping.

37. They eat slowly and a kill may last for 2–3 days.

38. Although their diet is mostly meat, they do supplement with grasses and twigs.

39. When wild prey are scarce, they may hunt domestic livestock, prompting farmers to kill snow leopards.

40. On average, snow leopards hunt and kill a large prey every 8–10 days.

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Three siblings: Snow leopard cubs at the Cat Survival Trust, Welwyn, UK.
Source
Source
Source
Source
Source
Three siblings: Snow leopard cubs at the Cat Survival Trust, Welwyn, UK.
Three siblings: Snow leopard cubs at the Cat Survival Trust, Welwyn, UK. | Source
Source

Mating, Cubs, and Lifespan

41. Snow leopard mating season falls in the January–March window.

42. Both males and females will scent mark to leave breadcrumbs leading to their territory, and the addition of pheromones indicates they are ready to mate.

43. Their courtship behavior is complex and prolonged, involving increased calls and visual displays, in order to guarantee their commitment to each other—at least during the brief mating period. They will also hunt together at this time.

44. Some studies in captivity suggest that snow leopards mate for life, although this behavior has not been confirmed in the wild.

45. After mating, female searches for a well-sheltered rock crevice as a safe location for giving birth without having to be alert all the time.

Snow Leopard Mating Rituals

46. After a gestational period of 3–4 months, snow leopards give birth to a litter of 1–5 cubs (on average two cubs).

48. Females are left to raise the cubs on their own, with the males leaving after mating.

47. Cubs weigh about 0.75–1.5 lbs at birth.

48. Cubs do not open their eyes until they are 7 days old, and do not begin walking until they are 5 weeks old.

49. During the time spent with their mothers, cubs learn how to stalk and hunt prey.

50. The young cubs live with their mother until two years of age—about the time females reach sexual maturity. Males reach sexual maturity at around four years of age.

51. After leaving their mother, siblings often stay together for a few more months.

52. In the wild, the life expectancy of snow leopards is 8–10 years, although they typically live to around 15–18 years. In captivity, their lifespan increases to 20–25 years.

Adorable Snow Leopard Cub Walking on the Snow: Young Snow Leopard Cubs live with their mothers for up to 2 years. After which they leave their mothers and live independent solitary lives.
Adorable Snow Leopard Cub Walking on the Snow: Young Snow Leopard Cubs live with their mothers for up to 2 years. After which they leave their mothers and live independent solitary lives.

Threats and Conservation

53. Although their conservation status was recently upgraded from Endangered to Vulnerable, their numbers are still declining due to declining prey populations, increased livestock overgrazing (which contributes to the decreased prey populations), hunting by farmers to protect livestock, and poaching for fur and organs (used in traditional medicine).

54. In 2013, the Global Snow Leopard Forum (GSLF)—which includes the nations that encompass the snow leopard's range—was formed to ensure that governments are taking proactive measures to protect the snow leopards and their environment.

55. Today, many national and international agencies exist to conserve the snow leopard population and habitat. These include the Snow Leopard Trust, Snow Leopard Conservancy, Snow Leopard Project, Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union, and the World Wild Fund for Nature.

56. Conservation projects involve raising awareness about their conservation status and educating local governments and citizens about the need to protect these cats. Farmers have been asked to leave land for the snow leopard's prey species to graze and to stop hunting the big cats.

57. An estimated 4,500–8,000 snow leopards are left in the world, with 600–700 in zoos. Population estimates are difficult to attain because of their extreme habitat and elusive nature, resulting in large ranges in population numbers.

Sources

Comments

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • profile image

      bjffymfyuj 

      5 days ago

      amaizing facts

    • profile image

      payton55 

      2 weeks ago

      this is good facts

    • profile image

      SNOW LEOPARDS ARE BOSS! 

      3 weeks ago

      This was good for my school project

    • profile image

      Skye 

      7 weeks ago

      This was useful for my school project on endangered animals, thanks :p sksksk

    • profile image

      karly 

      2 months ago

      I love snow leperds

    • profile image

      Joshua 

      2 months ago

      Thanks lol

    • profile image

      SAVE THE SNOW LEOPARDS/I LOVE UNICORNS 

      4 months ago

      perfect for my school speech thank you this was gr8

    • profile image

      ahmed 

      4 months ago

      awesome 100%

    • profile image

      maddison 

      5 months ago

      it is great for my project about snow leopards

    • profile image

      potato 

      5 months ago

      i like this its so fun

    • profile image

      Shifa 

      5 months ago

      I learned a lot of interesting facts about snow leopards because I was doing a project on endangered animals and I needed to pic 5 and I picked snow leopards and I needed to find facts about them. This website helped me a lot.

    • profile image

      Name 

      5 months ago

      Name the snow leopards real name

    • profile image

      You Know My Name 

      6 months ago

      My project requires everything that is on this page! However, it is not that grand. Too numerous words.

    • profile image

      Fraser 

      6 months ago

      Perfect for my project at school!

    • profile image

      Scar carter 

      6 months ago

      cool i like it

    • profile image

      joel 

      6 months ago

      it is very intresting! perfect for my project at school!

    • profile image

      logan 

      6 months ago

      i like snow leopards

    • profile image

      OB 

      6 months ago

      OMG snow leopards are the best they are my favorite animals and they HAVE TO BE SAVED!!!!

    • profile image

      grace 

      6 months ago

      so much info!!

    • profile image

      bustersword 

      6 months ago

      great for my progect at school!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      kay 

      6 months ago

      This helped my school project so much

    • profile image

      i love snow leopards 

      6 months ago

      save them now!

    • profile image

      mr. snow lepard 

      6 months ago

      OMG and to think we are killing more beautiful animals than this

    • profile image

      cool gamer 97 

      6 months ago

      so helpful for my project!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      zacattack 

      7 months ago

      hey i got to one in the wild about two month's ago

    • profile image

      zac blaes 

      7 months ago

      save them come on now

    • profile image

      :p 

      7 months ago

      they are cute

    • profile image

      lol 

      7 months ago

      they are so cute

    • profile image

      hello 

      7 months ago

      we have to save them

    • profile image

      piper 

      7 months ago

      save them!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      GABE'S MOM 

      7 months ago

      SAVE THE SNOW LEOPARDS ;)

    • profile image

      yep:) 

      7 months ago

      save the snow leopards

    • profile image

      UR MOM 

      7 months ago

      im doing an endagerd animal report on snoe leopards! Help Save The Snow leopards

    • profile image

      noooooo 

      7 months ago

      save snow leopards

    • profile image

      hi 

      7 months ago

      save snow leopards

    • profile image

      Aldo 

      7 months ago

      Help snow leopards

    • profile image

      anonymous21 

      7 months ago

      amazing websote

    • profile image

      Anonymous 

      8 months ago

      This animals are amazing and must be saved

    • profile image

      Alyce 

      8 months ago

      I sometimes wish I had a pet snow leopard.

    • profile image

      E. 

      8 months ago

      This was very helpful for my school project.

    • profile image

      adaicaso 

      8 months ago

      helpful

    • profile image

      logan 

      8 months ago

      so adorable

    • profile image

      Gage 

      8 months ago

      this was so helpful

    • profile image

      Sophia 

      9 months ago

      I am doing a project about snow leopards and this is great !

      Thx (Sophia,12)

    • profile image

      Dylan 

      9 months ago

      I love snow leopards i like this page and i am doing research on them

      SAVE SNOW LEOPARDS

    • profile image

      The pretty 

      9 months ago

      I love snow leopards i am doing research on them they are so cute and adorable i can not believe that they are coming extinct SAVE SNOW LEOPARDS

    • profile image

      unknown 

      9 months ago

      to bad they are go extinct

    • profile image

      Coolio 

      9 months ago

      So bad

    • profile image

      sombody 

      9 months ago

      i love them

    • profile image

      Zaniyah 

      10 months ago

      Ya cool

    • profile image

      scarface 

      10 months ago

      they are adorable and they need help because they are going extinct

    • profile image

      Jasmine 

      10 months ago

      Snow Leopards are SUPER adorable!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      a rey 

      10 months ago

      snow leopards are pretty

    • profile image

      snow leopard riri 

      10 months ago

      im doing a thing where i have to dress up for my school where i have to dress up as a snow leopard and bring facts about snow leopard

    • profile image

      Artem yo cool 

      10 months ago

      these facts are amazing!

      thanks for the very good facts

      about snow leopards!

    • profile image

      NoneOfYourBuisness 

      10 months ago

      Thank You For These Facts

    • profile image

      cool 

      10 months ago

      cool

    • profile image

      Abdullah 

      10 months ago

      I am from chitral i see snow leopard many times in May life i love snow leopard very much

    • profile image

      Jennifer 

      10 months ago

      thank you you help me finish mu homework for an endanger species

    • profile image

      cool 

      11 months ago

      awsome this helped me do a project

    • profile image

      daddy 

      11 months ago

      this facts is very helpful

      l and hope you guys will like it as much as i did and snow leopoards are so cool and cute

    • profile image

      sara 

      11 months ago

      I love snow lepers there so cool

    • profile image

      carlito 

      11 months ago

      I LOVE SNOW LEOPARDS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • profile image

      Gina 

      11 months ago

      So cool

    • profile image

      unknown 

      11 months ago

      This helped me do a project! Groovy.

    • profile image

      Riley 

      11 months ago

      Soooooooooooooo! cute I Love it

    • profile image

      wooooooooooow 

      12 months ago

      woooooooooooow

    • profile image

      hi 

      12 months ago

      We must save these animals!!!

    • profile image

      robert beale 

      12 months ago

      snow leopards are rlly cool

    • profile image

      Vicky 

      12 months ago

      Sooooooo cute

    • profile image

      Yo-yo 

      12 months ago

      Sooooo cute

    • profile image

      boi 

      12 months ago

      so cute

    • profile image

      Frog 

      13 months ago

      Cooll

    • profile image

      Kangaroo 

      13 months ago

      Soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo cute! I luv it❤️!

      The

    • profile image

      Edomite 

      13 months ago

      Cute and cuddly! Now that I read this I want one.

    • profile image

      Person 

      13 months ago

      Snow leopards are so cute and cuddly! I want to have one

    • profile image

      violite 

      13 months ago

      I LOVE SNOW LEOPARDS

    • profile image

      13 months ago

      Never-everknewany of these facts

    • profile image

      Da Greek Myth Guy 

      13 months ago

      This stuff is amazing!!!!!!!!!!1

    • profile image

      Foxygirl 

      13 months ago

      Never knew any of these facts

    • profile image

      Boy 

      13 months ago

      Baby’s ones are cute

    • profile image

      hello leopards! 

      13 months ago

      they are so cute

    • profile image

      jake 

      13 months ago

      these are great facts

    • profile image

      Justin Bieber 

      14 months ago

      People say I’m just a singer but I also have a heart for snow leopards they are my favourite animal.

    • profile image

      Alyce 

      14 months ago

      I love snow leopards they are my new favourite animal.

    • profile image

      Alyce 

      14 months ago

      I have learned lots of facts about snow leopards

    • profile image

      EMMA 

      14 months ago

      so cool!!!!!

    • profile image

      landon 

      14 months ago

      I was doing a proget on snow leperds and be couse of this I got an a plus.

    • profile image

      Juanita 

      14 months ago

      Hello im doing a project on snow leopards and i want some more detailed facts about these amazing animals could some one help me

    • profile image

      Funky facts here 

      14 months ago

      These are so adorable thank you for this site

    • profile image

      jac 

      14 months ago

      they are so ADORABLE

      Thank you for this website!:D=D

    • profile image

      I hate it 

      15 months ago

      I look for a school project on this site and my teacher tells me its fake wtfffff

    • profile image

      15 months ago

      Nice.

    • profile image

      blob 

      16 months ago

      lol i like it

    • profile image

      People 

      16 months ago

      I love leopards

    • profile image

      no one 

      16 months ago

      I love tis so interesting thanks

      I LOVE SNOW LEOPARDS

    • profile image

      jose 

      16 months ago

      good thing

    • profile image

      noah 

      16 months ago

      cool stuff used it for my report!!!

    • profile image

      noone dragon 9999999999999999999999990 

      17 months ago

      like your work

    • profile image

      Mackenzie M. 

      17 months ago

      they are adorable and these are amazing facts.

    working

    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, owlcation.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://owlcation.com/privacy-policy#gdpr

    Show Details
    Necessary
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Features
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Marketing
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Statistics
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)