The snow leopard, also known as an once, is considered to be one of the most beautiful animals in the world. There are some many things that make this animal fascinating including it’s thick grey, black-spotted coat, large furry paws, long tail and intense stare. However as this animal is so rare it is hardly ever seen in it’s natural habitat. In fact, we don’t know how many snow leopards are left in the wild which is why they are such a mysterious animal. Here are some of the main and most astonishing facts to know about this incredible big cat.
1. It lives at high altitudes
Unlike other big cats like lions, leopards and cheetahs, the snow leopard prefers to live in mountainous places that are particularly cold. This animal is found in the high rugged mountain valleys of central Asia, especially in China, Nepal or even Mongolia at altitudes of between 3000 to 5000 metres.
The snow leopard chooses steep-sided cliffs and ravines so that they can camouflage themselves more easily as well as carry out surprise attacks on prey. This includes sheep and wild goats. However they can also feed on smaller animals like rodents, hares and birds. Surprisingly vegetation also makes up an important part of their diet.
2. It’s feet are very big
So that it can protect itself from the cold, snow leopards have an incredibly think fur as well as big furry feet. Their particularly large size allows means their feet don’t sink into the snow so they act a bit like shoe shoes. This actually allows them to share their weight around their body so that it is more uniform on the snow.
What is more, these large pads help the snow leopard to quieten the sound of it’s movements so they are more conspicuous.
3. It can’t roar
As well as preferring cold and dry climates to hot, humid climates, snow leopards distinguishes itself from other big cats by the fact that it can not roar. However it is able to hiss, purr and growl. The sounds that it makes are similar to domestic cats and not much louder.
What is more, it’s eyes are generally grey or light green which is rather unusual for big cats. Other big cats tend to have yellow or golden eyes.
4. It is a solitary animal
The snow leopard is a solitary animal which is mostly active at dawn or dusk. It won’t meet up with other compatriots except from during the reproduction period which is between January to May. After mating, the male and female go their separate ways.
After a pregnancy of about 100 days the female will give birth to 2 to 4 babies which stay at her side for at least 18 months.
5. It’s tail is really very long
The snow leopard weighs on average 45 kilos and measures about 2 metres long with it’s tail combined. However the tail measures generally no less than 1 metre, which means that their tail is almost as long as the animal’s body.
Why is the tail so long? The snow leopards tail plays a very important role in helping the animals balance when climbing in steep, rugged slopes. What’s more it is a real advantage for protecting itself from the cold during resting periods. All the snow leopard need to do is to wrap up it’s body in it’s tail like a scarf so as to stay warm when sleeping.
However what is even more astonishing is that snow leopards use their tail for fat reserves so as to help it get through periods with less food!
6. It can jump far
Snow leopards hind legs are particularly long which allows them to jump far. In fact they are known for leaping up to 15 metres! However it can also jump 6 metres up which is the equivalent to reaching the roof of an average two-story house.
It is also one of the best jumpers among the big cats. Thanks to this skill it is a very practical hunter.
7. It is territorial
Every snow leopard has a large territory which it covers a zone of every day. This hardy animal can walk more than 20 km per day.
8. It can live for 15 years
In captivity, snow leopards can reach up to 25 years old. However in the wild, their life expectancy is rarely more than 15 to 18 years.
9. It is a peaceful animal
The snow leopard isn’t really like other big cats. In fact it has a particularly docile and calm temperament which gives it the reputation of being one of the gentlest large carnivores. Not at all aggressive, attacks on humans are almost non existent. It can even appear to incapable of defending itself in front of a human…
10. It is an endangered species
Just like the majority of living species on the planet, the snow leopard is threatened by extinction. What are the reasons? Predominantly poaching and the destruction of it’s habitat. However we don’t know how many individuals live in the wild even if it has been estimated that there are about 4000 to 8000 left.
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