Snow Leopards

The Beasts Of Prey

The Snow Leopard is a large feline which can be found in China, India, Russia and the Himalayan Ranges. Snow Leopards have a coat which is white, yellowish and light grey, with dark grey to black spots and rosettes. Despite, the Snow Leopard having 'Leopard' in it's name, the animal's closest relative is actually the Tigers. Sadly, Snow Leopards are fighting extinction and there are only 6,000 Snow Leopards left in the wild. There is only an average of 500 Snow Leopards in the twelve countries they call home. Snow Leopards have unique physical features, eat a variety of animals, of which in the wild they hunt and a incredible life cycle.

Fast Facts

Scientific Name - Unica Unica

Protection Status - Endangered

Height - 0.6 metres (adult Snow Leopard)

Length - 1.8 to 2.3 metres (adult Snow Leopard)

Weight of a Female Snow Leopard - 35 kilograms

Weight of a Male Snow Leopard - 55 kilograms

Habitat - Central Asia

Population in the wild - 6,000

Population in zoos - 700

A Snow Leopard's main physical features include it's long tail, it's protective paws and it's multipurpose coat. It has a tail which is long and thick to help them balance. The tail of a Snow Leopard can reach up to one metre, and this helps when walking on rough mountain ranges. It has paws that keep the animal from sinking in the snow. In the heavy snow patches in Central Asia, a Snow Leopard's large paws help the animals from sinking in the deep snow. It has a multipurpose coat, which helps to keep Snow Leopards warm and well hidden. A Snow Leopard's coat allows the animal's body temperature to stay in the cold, as well as a coat that easily blends into it's natural surroundings, making it easier to hunt prey. Physical features such as a long tail, protective paws and a multipurpose coat are key factors to the Snow Leopard's survival.

Photo of a Snow Leopard's Key Physical Features.

Food is an important part of a Leopard's survival, which is why Snow Leopards eat prey animals, vegetation and hunt a large creature every eight or so days. Snow Leopards are known to eat wild animals such as blue sheep and wild goat(Asiatic Ibex). However, in the harsh Himalayan winters, Snow Leopards are known to hunt domestic livestock,due to the lack of wild animals, such as sheep, goats, horses or young yaks. It also eats vegetation, which is common for felines, but, it's found that Snow Leopards eat more plant material than the other cats, whether big or small. Snow Leopards eat vegetation such as grass and twigs, possibly as an extra source of vitamins, an aid in digestion,or to eliminate parasites. Snow leopards hunt for a large animal every eight to ten days. It is known that a Snow Leopard can attack an animal that is three or four times as big as itself, this means the meat will last for at least a week. Food has brought the most fame to Snow Leopards, after all they are nicknamed the 'Beast of Prey' because they can hunt other animals, eat plant materials and hunt a large animal on the average of eight to ten days.

Photo of Blue Sheep, part of a Snow Leopard's diet.

A Snow Leopard's life spans for 22 years, the mating season goes from January to Mid-March and in one litter, it is possible to find two to three cubs, and Snow Leopards enter adulthood early. In captivity, it has been shown that Snow leopards can live until the age age of 22. in the wild, circumstances are much harsher, only allowing Snow Leopards to live until the age of 17. They mate between January and Mid-March, leaving the the cub to be born in June or July. This then leaves the adult Snow Leopards with two or three cubs, who at birth are blind, defenceless and tiny. It becomes an adult at the age of two for females and four for males.The different genders which enter adulthood at different ages because that is when they are ready to have their own cubs. The life cycle of the Snow Leopard is very important, because improved reproduction and population of the species is what is necessary to fight extinction.

Photo of the life cycle of a Snow Leopard.