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Snow Leopard

(Uncia uncia)

Conservation:

Snow leopards are found in the high mountains of Central Asia. Due to their beautiful coloring and soft fur, the snow leopards are now endangered. Once down to only 1,000 animals, the world population is now around 6,000.

Amazing Facts:

Because of the extreme climates in the snow leopard's habitat, snow leopards have several unique adaptations. In the winter their fur gets whiter while in the summer their fur turns grayer. Snow leopards have a very thick and long fur coat to insulate their bodies against the extreme cold weather in the winter. This coat also protects them from the extreme heat of the summer. Compared to other cats, snow leopards have a very long tail. Their tail is not only very long but also round and thickly furred with hair that is equally long all around. The tail is not only for warmth but is also very helpful in maintaining balance on the steep slopes in their mountain habitat. Also, their paws are large and broad, with front paws larger than the hind ones. The paws have hair cousins, rather than pads, which increases surface area and distributes weight more evenly over a larger area. This prevents sinking into soft snow. The hair cousins also protect the soles from snow, cold, rough ground, and sun-heated rocks. Finally, they have high eye placement which allows them to stay low behind cover while still being able to see their prey.

Sounds:

Unlike the big cats, snow leopards do not roar, but they purr like the small cats.
  • Grunting
  • Meowing
  • Moaning
  • Puffing
  • Growling
  • Hissing
  • Purring - They purr the same way house cats do.
  • Moaning - A loud moaning is associated with attraction of a mate

Behavior:

While their name doesn't sound it, snow leopards actually have more characteristics in common with small cats than with the large ones. Rather than eating lying down like their larger cousins, they eat in a crouch position. They eat mostly species of mountain goats (ibex, markhor, tahr) and sheep, but are also know to eat musk deer, marmots, pikas, piping hare, bobak, mice, and birds.

General Description:

Their body markings are more like a small cat, with their head having few spots and the spots being arraigned in distinct rows rather than randomly like the leopard.
Order: Carnivora
Family: Felidae
Subfamily: Pantherinae
Genus: Uncia
Species: Uncia uncia

Gestation: 98-103 days
Range: Northern India, Soviet Union and countries bordering the Himalayas
Longevity: Up to 20 years in captivity
Weight: 55-165 pounds