Snow leopards

By Rachel

A Snow Leopard's Diet

Snow leopards eat ibex, wild sheep, marmots, mice, birds, and other small animals. Goats and sheep are the most common prey. After hunting an animal, a snow leopard may drag its prey into snow tunnels for storage and safe keeping. They eat slowly and a kill may last up to 2-3 days.


How They Look

Snow leopards have a gray coat with white on their belly. Their head and limbs are marked with black or brown spots. Their winter coat is lighter in color. They have light green or grey eyes, unusual for big cats who usually have yellow or gold.

Cubs!

Breeding season is usually January-May, with a gestation lasting 98 to 103 days. An average female snow leopard gives birth to a litter consisting 1-5 cute baby cubs! The cubs don't open their eyes until they are 7 days old. Cubs start hunting with their mom at 3 months.

They eat solid food at 2 months, and leave their mother at 2 years.

Big And Small

Snow leopards are slightly tinier than other big cats. The females are even smaller, 30% less than males. A male's weight can reach 75kg and a small female can be under 25kg. They stand about 60cm in the shoulder. Tail length is 3 feet and head and body can be up to 5 feet.

Living In the Cold

Snow leopards can be found at altitudes between 9,800 and 17,000 feet in the high, rugged mountains of Central Asia. Their range spans from Afghanistan to Kazakstan and Russia in the north, and India and China in the east.

How many are left?

Snow leopards are endangered. The main reason is because they are hunted for their fur and bones. An estimated 3,000-10,000 are left in the wild. They have already disappeared from certain parts of Mongolia, which is part of their historic range. CITES, Appendix 1, and the Endangered Species Act are all programs that protect snow leopards.


How They Act

Snow leopards are solitary creatures. They are non-aggressive animals that when threatened by another predator, it may choose to back away, leaving its prey behind. Snow leopards can't roar. Vocalizations include hisses, chuffing, growls, and wails.