50+ Facts About Snow Leopards - Owlcation - Education
Updated date:

50+ Facts About Snow Leopards

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

Data from http://snowleopardconservancy.org/kids/text/livingwild.htm

CountryEstimated 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

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.

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.

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.

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

Leopards on June 03, 2020:

Helpful information. Thanks

Leopard lover on May 18, 2020:

Thx for the info

Love snow ⛄️ on May 13, 2020:

I have a project dew tomorrow this is really good for it

I ate Doritos for breakfast on May 06, 2020:

Are they taste like Doritos?

SnowLeopardLover on May 04, 2020:

Have to write a poem on my fave animal and this was very helpful thx :)

Georgia logan on April 09, 2020:

I love sonw leaperds and I would like some facts.

jon on April 07, 2020:

I like it and I love snow leopards

bob on March 10, 2020:

awsome

sheep on February 26, 2020:

I like snow leopards.

sean on February 19, 2020:

helping

just a normal user on January 16, 2020:

really helpful for my study

:eyes: on January 06, 2020:

epic :'D

raachotrekkers on December 21, 2019:

Snow leopards are found in Spiti valley of Himalaya

https://raachotrekkers.com/spiti-snow-leopard-trai...

insanely insane on December 19, 2019:

love these little guy favrite animal

Looney on December 17, 2019:

I love this site it was so useful!!!!!!! for my 3 page paper

THANK YOU!!!!!!

Smithfield middle school on December 12, 2019:

This was very helpful for my project thanks!!

Maker of this page on December 08, 2019:

I am glad you guys liked it.

aeva on December 06, 2019:

thanks. this was useful for my writing!

I love snow leopards on November 20, 2019:

Thanx for the info its good for my school project

bjffymfyuj on November 12, 2019:

amaizing facts

payton55 on October 28, 2019:

this is good facts

SNOW LEOPARDS ARE BOSS! on October 20, 2019:

This was good for my school project

Skye on September 25, 2019:

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

karly on September 16, 2019:

I love snow leperds

Joshua on September 01, 2019:

Thanks lol

SAVE THE SNOW LEOPARDS/I LOVE UNICORNS on July 02, 2019:

perfect for my school speech thank you this was gr8

ahmed on June 23, 2019:

awesome 100%

maddison on June 19, 2019:

it is great for my project about snow leopards

potato on June 17, 2019:

i like this its so fun

Shifa on May 29, 2019:

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.

Name on May 22, 2019:

Name the snow leopards real name

You Know My Name on May 16, 2019:

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

Fraser on May 15, 2019:

Perfect for my project at school!

Scar carter on May 08, 2019:

cool i like it

joel on May 04, 2019:

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

logan on May 03, 2019:

i like snow leopards

OB on May 01, 2019:

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

grace on April 29, 2019:

so much info!!

bustersword on April 27, 2019:

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

kay on April 25, 2019:

This helped my school project so much

i love snow leopards on April 25, 2019:

save them now!

mr. snow lepard on April 25, 2019:

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

cool gamer 97 on April 24, 2019:

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

zacattack on April 18, 2019:

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

zac blaes on April 18, 2019:

save them come on now

:p on April 17, 2019:

they are cute

lol on April 17, 2019:

they are so cute

hello on April 15, 2019:

we have to save them

piper on April 12, 2019:

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

GABE'S MOM on April 11, 2019:

SAVE THE SNOW LEOPARDS ;)

yep:) on April 11, 2019:

save the snow leopards

UR MOM on April 10, 2019:

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

noooooo on April 09, 2019:

save snow leopards

hi on April 05, 2019:

save snow leopards

Aldo on April 02, 2019:

Help snow leopards

anonymous21 on March 26, 2019:

amazing websote

Anonymous on March 08, 2019:

This animals are amazing and must be saved

Alyce on March 08, 2019:

I sometimes wish I had a pet snow leopard.

E. on February 28, 2019:

This was very helpful for my school project.

adaicaso on February 27, 2019:

helpful

logan on February 27, 2019:

so adorable

Gage on February 22, 2019:

this was so helpful

Sophia on February 17, 2019:

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

Thx (Sophia,12)

Dylan on February 12, 2019:

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

SAVE SNOW LEOPARDS

The pretty on February 08, 2019:

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

unknown on February 07, 2019:

to bad they are go extinct

Coolio on February 04, 2019:

So bad

sombody on January 23, 2019:

i love them

Zaniyah on January 15, 2019:

Ya cool

scarface on January 14, 2019:

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

Jasmine on January 11, 2019:

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

a rey on January 10, 2019:

snow leopards are pretty

snow leopard riri on January 10, 2019:

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

Artem yo cool on January 07, 2019:

these facts are amazing!

thanks for the very good facts

about snow leopards!

NoneOfYourBuisness on January 07, 2019:

Thank You For These Facts

cool on January 04, 2019:

cool

Abdullah on December 31, 2018:

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

Jennifer on December 23, 2018:

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

cool on December 17, 2018:

awsome this helped me do a project

daddy on December 17, 2018:

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

sara on December 16, 2018:

I love snow lepers there so cool

carlito on December 12, 2018:

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

Gina on December 12, 2018:

So cool

unknown on December 02, 2018:

This helped me do a project! Groovy.

Riley on November 26, 2018:

Soooooooooooooo! cute I Love it

wooooooooooow on November 20, 2018:

woooooooooooow

hi on November 13, 2018:

We must save these animals!!!

robert beale on November 13, 2018:

snow leopards are rlly cool

Vicky on October 30, 2018:

Sooooooo cute

Yo-yo on October 29, 2018:

Sooooo cute

boi on October 26, 2018:

so cute

Frog on October 17, 2018:

Cooll

Kangaroo on October 16, 2018:

Soooooooooooooooooooooooooooo cute! I luv it❤️!

The

Edomite on October 16, 2018:

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

Person on October 16, 2018:

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

violite on October 15, 2018:

I LOVE SNOW LEOPARDS

! on October 06, 2018:

Never-everknewany of these facts

Da Greek Myth Guy on October 05, 2018:

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

Foxygirl on October 05, 2018:

Never knew any of these facts

Boy on October 04, 2018:

Baby’s ones are cute