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Snow Leopard Facts Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom

posted: 05/15/12
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Description:

Snow leopards are beautiful big cats with soft, thick gray coats and white underbellies. They have black and brown spots and markings. The leopards are between four to five feet long and weigh 60 to 120 pounds, with males being about 30 percent larger than females. These cats have giant paws that act like snowshoes and tails nearly as long as their bodies (36 to 40 inches) that they use for blankets against the cold. Their coats are lighter in the winter as camouflage in the snow.

Habitat:

Snow leopards live at high altitudes, approximately 5,900 to 18,000 feet in alpine meadows, mountain steppes and coniferous forests in Central Asia.

Behavior:

Snow leopards are solitary, like most other big cats but can be seen in pairs during mating season. However, since snow leopards are primarily nocturnal, they are extremely elusive. Snow leopards are not normally aggressive but will become so when they or their cubs are threatened. As a main defense, snow leopards usually will run away. Despite having a wide range of vocal sounds like most big cats, snow leopards cannot roar.

Food Source:

Snow leopards are carnivorous animals and are powerful enough to take down an animal three times their size. Generally, leopards hunt mammals like blue sheep and mountain ibex but also eat small mammals and birds. Snow leopards also have been known to attack domestic animals.

Population:

Primarily due to poaching, snow leopards are an endangered species. Not only are they hunted for their pelts, but traditional Chinese medicine calls for snow leopard body parts and bones. Similarly, the leopards' decreasing habitat also contributes to their decreasing numbers.

Fun Fact:

Snow leopards have pale green or gray eyes, which is unusual for cats.

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