Snow leopards: the ghostly mountain predators

Snow leopards have fascinated humans for years. They’re mysterious, elusive, and beautiful. When you look at the terrain they live in, you can understand why they’re so rare to see. The rugged mountainous alpine terrains of Central Asia are hard to access and far from people. Their camouflage is perfect; their white fur bleeds and blends into the colours of their surroundings.

7532374364_8f3dc6d39e_zThe ghost-like cats leave clues hidden around the mountains for each other. They need lots of space, and plant messages for other leopards in the form of scratches, fur, and urine for other cats to know of their presence. The sub-zero temperatures of the snow leopard’s environment are unrelenting but they have a few tricks up their metaphorical sleeves to cope with the bitter climate. Their paws are wide and act as inbuilt snowshoes to spread their weight and to avoid sinking. Covered with thick fur, the pads of their feet are insulated against the biting cold. The tail is almost as long as they are, so in times of need they wrap their tails around their bodies, almost like a scarf, to shield themselves from the winter winds.

The cliffs of their surroundings are so steep it must be difficult to stalk prey in the silence of the wilderness without making a sound. Their muscular build allows them to tread carefully and quickly, and their long tails act as a counterbalance when they’re navigating tricky terrain making them efficient hunters. Snow leopards are unusual to their panther relatives in that they cannot roar. Their vocal chords are less developed. Instead they make soft noises, puffing blowing, and purring.