Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia)

The snow leopard can be found in the steep broken terrain of Central Asia and southern Russia. They live in the conifer forests of the alpine regions and are even found as high as 900 to 5500 meters. They can also survive in temperatures that range from - 40 F to 104 F. The snow leopard likes to inhabit areas that are heavily forested because they spend most of their time in trees. They also live in dens and caves, especially when they are raising young.

The snow leopard has spots to help it camouflage with the trees that it spends most of its time in. It is of a lighter gray colour in order to blend more heavily with the snow and surrounding mountainous terrain. Their large paws help them to stay high on the snow and avoid sinking through because of the enlarged surface area. They also have disproportionately large tails in order to help them balance when in the trees which is where they spend most of their time sleeping, eating, hunting and playing, it also can be wrapped around their body to act as a scarf in colder temperatures. Their large fur helps them to keep warm and their large wide noses help them to obtain more oxygen from the thin air found at high altitudes. Their ears are small in order to prevent heat loss.

Snow leopards are polygamous creatures and mate through the months of March. 2 to 3 cubs are born after a gestation period of 90-103 days. The cubs will eat solid food after two months but will not leave their mother until 3 months. They will hunt with their mother their first winter. A snow leopard will reach sexual maturity at about 2 years for a female and 3 years for a male. The cubs will learn how to hunt from their mother and how to fight from playing with each other.

Snow leopards prefer to feed on ungulates with large horns such as moose because their horns make it harder to balance when being attacked uphill and therefor easier to hunt. They eat large mammals such as ibex and blue horned sheep as well as smaller prey such as birds and mammals that are found in the area. Snow leopards do not have much competition for food in the areas they live although there are other smaller felines. They must also stay with their prey once they have made a kill to ensure that it is not stolen by vultures or ravens. Humans pose the largest threats to leopards as they are hunted for their furs and parts are also used in ancient medicines. Hunting and encroachment on their habitat is one of the main reasons snow leopards are now endangered.

Body Length 1.30 metres
Tail Length 0.79 - 0.99 metres
Wingspan N/A
Life Span 15.00 years
Weight 34.93 - 54.43 kilograms