Snow Leopards

Snow Leopards

The snow leopard surprisingly is not closely related to the leopard or to other members of the Pantherine group, although the name can easily mislead one to believe otherwise. Snow leopards show some very distinct characteristics. First of all, the body markings on a snow leopard are strikingly different from that of a leopard. The rosettes and spots on a snow leopard are less distinct and are spaced farther apart. The snow leopard also does not have a full throated roar. Its fur is long and woolly as it has to protect itself from the extreme cold in its mountainous habitat. The snow leopard is generally gray in color with yellow tinges at the flanks and white fur on its belly, chin and chest. Snow leopards have very powerful paws that aid it in climbing and walking over rough terrain though the legs may seem too short for the body.

Often found in the mountains of central Asia, snow leopards are seen in Russia, Mongolia, China, Tibet, India and Pakistan. Although this may seem like a vast area, the actual pockets in which the snow leopards are found are relatively small and fragmented. The snow leopard is generally found in altitudes ranging between 2000-4000 meters, though sometimes they may appear in higher places. Rocky terrain such as mountain passes, caves and outcrops are its favorites. As winter approaches, the cat will descend into the lowland forests in search of hibernating prey.

The snow leopard generally hunts during dawn or dusk and prefers wild sheep and goats like the Ibex. Musk deer and various species of hare and birds are other favorites. The cat uses the cover of darkness to its advantage and slinks below the skyline to jump out of nowhere on its unsuspecting victim. The cat also makes use of camouflage and the natural protection of the terrain to its advantage. This muscular animal can even bring down prey that is 2-3 times heavier, like the Yak. If the meal is huge, the cat will return for 3-4 days to feed. The cat is a solitary hunter except during the breeding season when one cat may stalk while the other pounces. However, unlike its cousins, the snow leopard does not attack man though they may encroach on livestock if food supply is low.

The snow leopard lives in a harsh terrain where climatic conditions are extreme and life is hard. Here only the tough and the cunning can survive. The breeding season therefore is of utmost importance to the cat if it wants to keep its line alive. The female cat usually gives birth during springtime, so that the cubs arrive when conditions are relatively warm and food supply is strong. The cubs remain with their mothers for about 20 months during which time they gain quite a lot of weight and learn to hunt. The litter size is generally2, though sometimes, a female may even bear up to 4 cubs in a go.

The number of snow leopards is slowly but steadily declining. The soft, grey to whitish fur of the leopard works against it when it comes to poachers and hunters. Many Chinese medicines also use the bones of the snow leopard. These factors coupled with the general decline in the species due to food problems place tremendous pressure on the longevity of their line. All this has rightly brought the snow leopard to the IUCN’s list of endangered animal. But hard work and public awareness is the only way in which the species can be protected.

More info on big and small wild cats:

Bengal Tigers
White Bengal Tigers
Royal Bengal Tigers
Bengal Tigers Facts
Jaguar Animal - Jaguar Cats
Black Jaguar (Animal)
Jaguar Animal Facts
Ocelot - Ocelot cat
Ocelot facts & Information
Siberian Tiger
White Siberian Tiger
Siberian Tiger Habitat
Siberian Tiger Fact
Siberian Tiger Information
Snow Leopard Habitat
Snow Leopard Fact
Endangered Snow Leopard
White Tigers
White Bengal Tigers
White Siberian Tigers
Baby White Tigers


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