Snow Leopards are big cats that live in central and south Asia. These beautiful animals are endangered due to habitat loss and hunting. This page contains information, pictures and a list of snow leopard facts for kids.
Find out about more endangered animals here.
Snow Leopard Facts: The Basics
Despite their name, snow leopards are more closely related to tigers than leopards. Unlike their African cousins, they have evolved to live in colder parts of the world. Snow leopards are also occasionally called ‘ounces’.
Where Do Snow Leopards Live?
Snow leopards live in and around the mountains of central Asia, in countries such as Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, India, Nepal and Bhutan.
What Do Snow Leopards Look Like?
Smallest Of The Big Cats
Snow leopards are physically the smallest members of the group of animals known as the ‘big cats’. (This group also includes lions, tigers, leopards and jaguars.) However, snow leopards are still fairly big animals, weighing around 25-55+ kg (60-120+ lbs). Their bodies (including their tails) are between 6 and 7.5 feet long.
Snow leopards’ tails are longer, in proportion to body size, than those of most other cats. This may help to provide them with better balance for walking in rocky environments.
Adaptation To Mountain Life
The most obvious difference between snow leopards and other big cats is their colour. Snow leopards have smoky-grey coloured fur, which provides camouflage in rocky, snow-covered habitat. The snow leopard’s spots – known as rosettes – help it to blend in with the rocks on the slopes of the mountains.
Snow leopards also have a number of other adaptations for living in the mountains. Whereas most big cats have yellow eyes, snow leopards have light green or grey eyes. This helps them to blend into their environment.
Snow leopards have thick fur. Their tails, which are not only long, but also thick, are used to protect their faces from the cold when the animal is resting. Snow leopards have wide paws, which allow them to walk on snow without sinking into it. The undersides of the paws are furry, to aid grip and to provide protection against the cold. Snow leopards’ nasal cavities are large, to warm up the cold air.
Watch the video below to see for yourself how well camouflaged snow leopards are!
Snow Leopard Habitat
Snow leopards live in mountainous terrain which, for much of the time, is covered with snow. 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.
Snow Leopard Facts For Kids: What Do Snow Leopards Eat?
Snow leopards are carnivores (meat eaters). They hunt by stalking and ambushing their prey, often from above. Snow leopards are capable of taking animals three times their weight. Common prey creatures include ibex, Himalayan blue sheep and Himalayan tahr. Snow leopards also hunt smaller animals such as rats, hares, and birds, and will also eat carrion.
Snow leopards occasionally prey on domestic livestock. This can cause farmers to hunt snow leopards in order to protect their livelihoods.
Why Are Snow Leopards Endangered?
The main reason snow leopards are endangered is habitat loss. More and more of its habitat is being developed into farmland. When this happens, the snow leopard loses not only its home, but also its food – it can no longer find enough animals to eat. Snow leopards are also hunted for their fur and their bones.
There are only about 6,000 snow leopards left in their natural habitat, and this number is decreasing. Today there are more snow leopards living in captivity than in the wild.
There are several charities that have been set up to help snow leopards, one of which is the Snow Leopard Trust.
10 Amazing Facts About Snow Leopards For Kids
- Snow leopards can jump up to nine metres.
- Snow leopards have long tails to help them balance, and keep them warm.
- Unlike other big cats, snow leopards can’t roar.
- Snow leopards can live up to 20 years old.
- To keep their feet warm, snow leopards have lots of thick fur on their paws.
- Snow leopards are most active at dawn and dusk.
- A female snow leopard gives birth to 2 or 3 cubs at a time.
- Snow leopards have light green or grey eyes, unlike other big cats, whose eyes are yellow / orange.
- Snow leopards rely on camouflage to hunt (and hide) in the snow.
- The snow leopard’s scientific name is ‘Panthera uncia‘.
Find out more about threatened animals here: Active Wild Endangered Animals List.
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