Snow leopards are found in alpine and sub-alpine regions of the Himalayas, as well as Tibet and northwestern China. These feline hunters ambush their prey, which includes wild sheep, deer, small mammals and wild boar. The average lifespan of this species is 18 years, although it’s generally less for those that live in the wild.
1. Scientific & Common Names
4. Present Status
Scientific & Common Names
Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Chordata
Class - Mammalia
Order - Carnivora
Family - Felidae
Genus - Panthera
Species - P. uncia
Common Names - Snow Leopard, Ounce
Snow leopards have thick fur that ranges in color from light gray to a smokier gray. Their coats are covered with darker spots or rosettes. Snow leopards have long tails that they use to cover their face and body for extra warmth and to help them balance. They also have large, furry paws that help them walk on rocks and through snow. Adults weigh between 60 to 120 pounds and measure between four to five feet in length.
Snow leopards breed between December and March, and females give birth to one to four offspring following a gestation period of 98 to 103 days. The mother cares for the cubs for at least one year. The cubs reach reproductive maturity when they’re around two years old.
Snow leopards are mostly solitary, except during the mating season. In order to communicate, they make moans or chuffing sounds instead of roaring as other big cats do. They’re mainly active early in the morning and late in the afternoon, which is when they tend to hunt. Snow leopards can jump up to 20 feet high and 50 feet across.
Not much is known about the snow leopard’s historical range because the species is difficult to track in their natural habitat. They’re native to several Asian countries, including Tibet, China, India, Nepal and Mongolia.
The snow leopard has been listed as endangered since 1986. Although exact numbers are hard to come by, the estimated population of this species in the wild is between 4,080 and 6,590. The main threats to snow leopards include habitat loss, prey base loss and poaching. The species is protected by legislation that forbids hunting and trading of snow leopards.