Scientific Name: Panthera uncia
The snow leopard is an endangered wild cat living in the cold mountain regions of Central Asia. It is estimated that there are between 4,000 and 7,000 snow leopards currently in existence, with half the population capable of reproduction. The snow leopard is considered a big cat, along with lions, tigers, jaguars and other leopards.
About the Snow Leopard
Snow leopards have a stocky build with short legs, long tails, wide paws and round ears. Some males can weigh up to 170 lbs., but most cats average between 60 lbs. and 120 lbs. Their fur ranges in color from a light grey to tan with dark spots, and grey or green eyes. The underside of the cat is white. Snow leopards have very strong legs and can leap up to 50 feet.
Central Asia is a geographical territory with low lands in the north and mountain ranges and plateaus in the south. The mountain ranges that run through Central Asia include the Pamir, Tien-Shan and Kunlun-Shan, as well as the Hindu-Kush and Karakoram which are part of the Himalayas. Snow Leopards range through several Asian countries in this region, including China, India, Uzbekistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Pakistan, Mongolia, Kyrgyzstan Bhutan, Afghanistan and Kazakhstan.
Snow leopard sounds include mewing, hissing, wailing and chuffing.
The snow leopard generally lives in mountainous regions, usually above the tree line. During the winter they can be found in forest areas at lower altitudes. Like many wild cats, snow leopards lead a solitary existence.
The snow leopard preys on mountain sheep, goats, domestic livestock, rabbits and birds. They also eat grass and twigs.
The females leopard gestation period is approximately 90 to 100 days. Cubs will usually be born during the months of April and June. The mother will usually remain with the cubs for an extended period of time, sometimes until they are almost two years of age.
Snow Leopard Conservation
Several conservation groups are focused on protecting the snow leopard and the cat’s habitat. Read more about snow leopard conservation and snow leopard conservation organizations.