Snow Leopard

Panthera uncia

Classification

Domain Eukarya: This Domain contains multicellular or unicellular organisms that are eukaryotic. They lack a cell wall. Organisms in this domain aren't capable of making their own food.


Kingdom Animalia: All members of the Kingdom Animalia are also called a Metazoa. This Kingdom does not contain prokaryotes which means all organisms are multicellular. Also all these organisms are heterotrophs. Most ingest and digest food in an internal cavity.


Phylum Chordata: Members have bilateral symmetry and a hollow nerve chord. All members in this Phylum have a bony or cartilaginous endoskeleton. At some stage in development they have a tail projecting out from their body.


Subphylum Vertebrata: All animals in this subphylum have a backbone and extrinsic eye muscles. All of their muscles are attached to their endoskeleton which helps them stand up and supports their legs to run.


Class Mammalia: All mammals in this Class have hair grow some point when growing up. They all have four-chambered hearts and many sensory organs. Every mammal has an internal secondary palate which separates the food and air in the mouth when digesting.


Order Carnivora: All members of the Order Carnivora have a fourth upper premolar and a first lower molar. In this order males usually tend to be larger than females. These animals have large and smart brain encased in a heavy skull to protect them from severe injuries.


Family Felidae: The Family Felidae is the biological family of cats. All these cats have sensitive whiskers and retractable claws (except for the cheetah). They have external ears for amazing hearing powers and short snouts. All cats in this family have nocturnal eyes and flexible bodies with muscular limbs.


Genus Panthera: This genus only includes the Snow Leopard.


Species: Panthera Uncia

General Description

Height: About 70 centimeters shoulder to ground


Length: An average adult snow leopard is 0.9 to 1.15 meters long.


Weight: The weight of a full grown snow leopard ranges from 35 to 55 kilograms.


Color: The base fur color ranges from a light grey to a creamy-white. The entire body is covered with greyish black spots and rosettes. Juvenile snow leopards have long black stripes from the middle of their body extending to their tail. As they grow these stripes break up into spots and rosettes.


Natural Range: The snow leopard is native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia. It likes to stay on the peaks of mountains where it tend to be more chilly. Snow leopards can be found anywhere from the Himalayas to Western Mongolia. China actually contains 60% of the Snow Leopard's population.


Diet: Snow leopards eat terrestrial vertebrates and other small mammals and birds, like mice and hares. Their primary prey is the blue sheep.


Habitat Description: Steep, rocky, and broken terrains are the preferred bedding areas for Snow Leopards. Cliffs and other major ridgelines are used for daytime resting. In the winter Snow Leopards may migrate to lower elevation for warmth and prey. They usually avoid dense forest cover and other bushy fields to stay overnight.


Predators: The snow leopard is a top predator, it has no natural enemies. The only other species that preys upon it are humans. Whereas cubs have one main family of predators. Most animals in the cat family have Snow Leopards as their number one prey. For example even leopards in general may hunt for Snow Leopards.

Physical Adaptations

Snow Leopards have extremely long tail which helps them. It helps balance their body when running at a very fast pace. They also have thick luxuriant fur which provides excellent insulation to their body. Their pale coat of fur helps them blend in with rocks and snow on the peaks of mountains. All Snow Leopards have a black line beneath their eye which helps block out the sun's glare on sunny days. This feature can be helpful when hunting prey during the day. These animals have large teeth and 4 sharp fangs. This allows them to tear and eat meat easily without any forceful motion. These teeth can be useful when catching a prey or eating in a rush because of some type of problem that is unexpected. They have short and stubby ears that stick outwards from their face. Their ears let them lose heat from their body quickly when they are sweating. Snow Leopards hat to be hot or warm because they easily adapt to the cold weather and don't like heat. Surprisingly their big eyes let them see clearly at night even if they are not nocturnal animal. These big eyes also allow extreme side vision even when looking straight ahead. One main feature Snow Leopards need to live is their large nose and lungs. Both the large nose and lung support them to breathe properly at high altitudes. This physical feature is necessary because Snow Leopards do mostly live on the peaks of mountains. Snow Leopards have retractable claws which it uses when hunting. Having retractable claws are helpful because other animals can't tell they have sharp claws when they are tucked into their paws. They use these claws on their prey to show a deadly effect.

Behavioral Adaptaions

The Snow Leopard have many behavioral adaptations. One main adaptation is that Snow Leopards leave scratches, leaves, needles, and dirt covered in feces/urine. This is done to mark their territory so no other leopard enters their area. This is also a signal of help from other Snow Leopards when they are in danger. These marks attract females to mate with them. The Snow Leopard usually lives within its "home range" at try to stay there most of their life. That way it can find its needs (food, water, and shelter) easier. This animal always covers its kill (prey) with debris, so no other animals eats its food. Snow Leopards don't like it when other species snatch their meal. It tries to adapt to the environment where its prey lives. This makes it easier for it to hunt down its prey without roaming around day and night looking for food. When hunting its prey it is very quiet, so its prey doesn't notice that its predator is hunting it down. This animal has great far sight, when it notices a human it remains and stays still. This prevents it from being killed or harmed. This species wraps its tail around its body to keep warm in harsh or extreme weather. Snow Leopards are solitary animals, this is so they don't have to share the food they get or any other useful resource they own. These animals become nocturnal if humans are around. This is so they can track every step the human takes. This makes them confident and safe that their is no harm or danger waiting for them at any risk. Normally this silent hunter becomes vocal during the breeding season. Females in heat yowl. They stalk their prey within two or three great leaps. Then launch a lightning-fast charge, striking their prey. This is so their prey doesn't know there predator is really close to them and can't run away. Victims are most often killed by suffocation with a bite across the throat. Snow Leopard suffocate them so they can't breathe or try to go away.

References

References

Burton, Maurice. "Snow Leopard." In International Wildlife Encyclopedia. 3rd ed. Vol. 17. New York, NY: Marshall Cavendish, 2002.


Montsion, L. 2014. "Uncia uncia" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed March 11, 2015 at http://animaldiversity.org/accounts/Uncia_uncia/


National Geographic. Last modified 1996-2015. Accessed March 23, 2015. http://animals.nationalgeographic.com/animals/mammals/snow-leopard/.


3 News. Last modified 2014. Accessed March 26, 2015. http://www.3news.co.nz/environmentsci/abandoned-snow-leopard-cubs-a-roaring-success-2011071416.