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Formerly classified as Leo uncia, the snow leopard has been placed—with the lion, tiger, and other big cats—in the genus Panthera. While snow leopards are protected over part of their range, hunting and poaching pose a major threat to their survival. She’s on the lookout for a snack. This article was most recently revised and updated by, https://www.britannica.com/animal/snow-leopard, National Geographic - Animals - Snow Leopard, San Diego Zoo Animals and Plants - Snow Leopard, International Union for Conservation of Nature. They live about 6500 to 20000 feet high on mountain slopes and snowy peaks. Snow leopards live in alpine meadows as well as in treeless rocky mountains. The snow leopard (Panthera uncia) is a rare big cat adapted to life in a cold, harsh environment. The change reflected an improved grasp of the reclusive cat's true population, rather than an increase in numbers. The habitat in this area can be classified as Temperate, Broad leaf Vegtation, and Mixed Forests. The habitats of the snow leopard in the Indian Himalayas is approximately less than 35,000 square miles, particularly in the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Hi… Snow leopards are some of the biggest cats in the world. Thick fur also covers the cat's large paws, helping to grip slick surfaces and minimize heat loss. China has almost 60% of the world’s snow leopard habitat in the areas like Xinjiang which is a huge, sparsely populated region of over 1.6 million square kilomteres (about one sixth of the China’s territory) and shares a border with the Tibet Autonomous Region. In the summer, the snow leopards live above the tree line from 2,700 to 6,000 m (8,900 to 19,700 ft), but in the winter they descend to forests between 1,200 and 2,000 m (3,900 to 6,600 ft). 2. Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. It communicates using mews, growls, chuffing, hisses, and wails. They also eat grass, twigs, and other vegetation. Habitat loss is another significant threat to the snow leopard. Updates? The female finds a rocky den, which she lines with fur from her belly. Cubs may be eaten by birds of prey, but only humans hunt the adult cats. The sole predator of … Snow Leopards can jump up to 50 ft. Countries include Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Mongolia, and Tibet. Picture by Tambako the Jaguar / Getty Images, African Lion Facts: Habitat, Diet, Behavior, Fascinating Arctic Fox Facts (Vulpes lagopus), 10.2305/IUCN.UK.2017-2.RLTS.T22732A50664030.en, Fading footprints; the killing and trade of snow leopards, Ph.D., Biomedical Sciences, University of Tennessee at Knoxville, B.A., Physics and Mathematics, Hastings College. While they are adapted to traverse rocky terrain and snow, snow leopards will follow trails made by people and animals if they are available. The two most important prey species for snow leopards are the blue sheep and the large wild goat. The snow leopard’s habitat also provides important resources for the many people who live there – from food and medicine to wood for shelter, heat and fuel. The ideal snow leopard habitat is bleak, dangerous, cold and desolate – not most people’s idea of a nice place to live. While the snow leopard is close in size to a lynx, it is more closely related to the jaguar, leopard, and tiger. The snow leopard inhabits the mountains of central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, ranging from an elevation of about 1,800 metres (about 6,000 feet) in the winter to about 5,500 metres (18,000 feet) in the summer. Snow leopards live above the tree line at altitudes of 3000-6000 m. In the winter, snow leopards will live at lower altitudes, coming into forests and valleys. Essentially, snow leopards will eat any animal that's two to four times their own weight or less. Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree.... Get exclusive access to content from our 1768 First Edition with your subscription. By helping to protect the snow leopard, we’re helping to conserve its environment for the benefit of people and nature. Between 1986 and 2017 the snow leopard was listed as an endangered species on the Red List of Threatened Species from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Ounce and the species name uncia derive from the old French word once, which means "lynx." Snow leopards live in harsh, snowy, rugged alpine regions in central and south Asia. The snow leopard's fur camouflages the cat against rocky terrain and protects it from cold temperatures. Their thick fur patterned with dark rosettes and spots (a pattern that is unique to each individual snow leopard) is the perfect camouflage for their rocky habitat, allowing them to stalk their prey. Snow leopards are foundat high altitudes in countries such as Russia, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, among others. They can be found in Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Bhutan, India, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Mongolia, Nepal, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Carnivorous: the cat’s main prey are ibex, argali and blue sheep. While they aren't aggressive toward humans, snow leopards do not make good pets because they require considerable space and raw meat, and males spray to mark territory. Snow leopards do not hunt adult yaks or humans. They can also be found in the spectacular rhododendron forests and are frequently found along steep rocky slopes. The primary habitat of Amur Leopard is in boreal forests which are temperate forests. The leopard mostly eats wild sheep and goats. These traits... Habitat and Distribution. A snow leopard is a rare species of wildlife animal, which is on the verge of extinction. The snow leopard has several physical characteristics that are adapted to its environment. Male snow leopards are larger than females, but they have a similar appearance. Wild snow leopards live in the mountains of central and south Asia, which means that a snow leopard habitat contains many other animals native to these areas. By looking at individual species of leopard, it is easier to determine what is found in a leopard habitat. They can run at speeds between 40-50 miles per hour but only for a short distance. The snow leopard lives in a dozen countries in mostly mountainous areas of Central and South Asia. The underparts, on which the fur may be 10 cm (4 inches) long, are uniformly whitish. The IUCN Red List now categorizes the snow leopard as a vulnerable species. In the wild, most cats live between 15 and 18 years, but snow leopards live about 25 years in captivity. The dense fur is white on the snow leopard's belly, gray on its head, and dotted with black rosettes. With its unique features, the snow leopard stays warm, travels safely, and sustains itself on what food can be found in its treacherous habitat. Its patterned coat helps it blend in with the steep rocky slopes above the tree line in the Asian mountains. It stands about 0.6 metre (2 feet) high at the shoulder and weighs 23–41 kg (50–90 pounds). The snow leopard has short legs, a stocky body, and an extremely long, bushy tail, which it can curl over its face to stay warm. As more people move into the snow leopard’s domain, … Known for their elusive nature, snow leopards are referred to by locals as “mountain ghosts.” As one of the most mysterious species on the planet, the snow leopard remains one of the least understood, and seen, of the big cats. The snow leopard was on the endangered species list from 1972 until 2017. Snow leopards play a key role as both a top predator and as an indicator of the health of their high-altitude habitat, ranging from an elevation of about 6,000 feet in the winter to about 18,000 feet in the summer. In 2016, an estimated 4,500–8,000 snow leopards are left in the wild—much larger than previously thought (4,000–6,500 in 2003). The snow leopard (Panthera uncia), also known as the ounce, is a large cat native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia.It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List because the global population is estimated to number less than 10,000 mature individuals and is expected to decline about 10% by 2040. Snow leopards are weaned by 10 weeks of age and remain with their mother for up to 18-22 months. Keeping Warm On day six of creation week, God created the cat kind with a suite of designs that we see expressed uniquely today in different members of the cat kind in a variety of climates. Snow leopard cubs have black spots that turn into rosettes as the cats approach maturity. A large male may reach 75 kg (165 lb), while a small female may weigh under 25 kg (55 lb). The snow leopard’s highly secretive behaviour and extremely remote habitats means they are rarely spotted in the wild. The snow leopard inhabits mountainous areas of Siberia, Russia, Pakistan, Mongolia, Tibet, India, Nepal, or Uzbekistan. The Amur Leopard fur has a pale color as compared to the other leopard species, which helps it to camouflage in the snow. Snow leopards become sexually mature between two and three years of age, and they mate in late winter. Its soft coat, consisting of a dense insulating undercoat and a thick outercoat of hairs about 5 cm (2 inches) long, is pale grayish with dark rosettes and a dark streak along the spine. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. The snow leopard habitat is a rugged one of isolated mountain ranges over 9,840 feet (3,000 meters) above sea level. Habitat Snow leopards can be found throughout high mountain ranges, including the Himalayas and the southern Siberian mountains in Russia. A snow leopard on the prowl in China. With their smoky-grey fur coats making them practically invisible, snow leopards have adapted to life at remote, frigid alpine landscapes with snowshoe-like paws and dense, woolly hair. Snow leopards are carnivores that actively hunt prey, including Himalayan blue sheep, tahr, argali, markor, deer, monkeys, birds, young camels and horses, marmots, pikas, and voles. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. They aren’t … Even though snow leopards are classified into the genus Panthera, they resemble a great amount of similarity to tigers.… A snow leopard habitat contains a number of different features, including high elevation, rocky outcrops, and cold weather. As an apex predator, adult snow leopards are not hunted by other animals. Scientists believe this trait naturally reduces the chance of inbreeding. Snow leopard habitat is made up chiefly by temperate shrublands, tundra grasslands and steppe in arid or semi-arid regions. Cold and dry: the snow leopard primarily lives in arid, barren mountain areas. Usually they are solitary, but pairs have been known to hunt together. They are more commonly found in the Himalayan mountain range, but frequent other Asian mountain ranges as well. It makes habitat at high altitudes reaching 14,000 feet above the sea level. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. Snow leopards are highly adapted to their home in the cold high mountains. Snow leopards live at high elevations in mountainous regions of Central Asia. Our editors will review what you’ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article. The snow leopard attains a length of about 2.1 metres (7 feet), including the 0.9-metre- (3-foot-) long tail. They are often killed by herders and ranchers whose livestock they have taken, and their bones and hides are sought after by hunters and poachers for the illegal animal trade. In Mongolia, the snow leopards are found in Kanghai Mountains and Gobi Altai mountains. It hunts at night and preys on various animals, such as marmots, wild sheep, ibex (Capra), and domestic livestock. The snow leopard inhabits the mountains of central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, ranging from an elevation of about 1,800 metres (about 6,000 feet) in the winter to about 5,500 metres (18,000 feet) in the summer. Snow Leopards are really big. Snow leopard, also called ounce, large long-haired Asian cat, classified as either Panthera uncia or Uncia uncia in the family Felidae. Even though their distribution is relatively wide, and they have recently been declared to a lesser degree of threat, the last 4,000 to 9,000 snow leopards are at risk from poaching and climate change. An additional 600 snow leopards live in captivity. At that point, the young cats travel great distances to seek their new home. Snow Leopard Habitat. Snow leopards can be found in Central and South Asia, but the vast majority of snow leopards reside in China. They are widely distributed in the Himalayas in Bhutan, Nepal, and India as well as the Tibetan plateau. 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