Top 10 snow leopard facts

The lucky few who’ve caught a glimpse of a snow leopard have pieced together parts of their fascinating lives; here’s what we know

 

  1. In flat areas with little food, a snow leopard’s home range can be two thirds the size of London
  2. Snow leopards are solitary and so elusive that they’re rarely seen. They leave scent marks to track each other down come breeding season.
  3. Their tails are long and fluffy, helping them to balance and providing a blanket when they’re resting.
  4. The diet of a snow leopard consists mainly of mid-sized herbivores like markhors and blue sheep, but they’ll also eat smaller animals like birds and hares. They’re capable of hunting much larger prey too, including camels and horses.
  5. A snow leopard’s tummy fur is 13 centimetres (five inches) thick in winter to keep the cat warm in the mountains.
  6. Although it’s not their usual habitat, snow leopards can live at altitudes of more than 6,000 metres (19,7000 feet) above sea level.
  7. Snow leopards are spread thinly through the mountains of 12 central Asian countries. Their range has been reduced by climate change, and they’re under threat from poachers.
  8. Unlike tigers and lions, snow leopards can’t roar. They meow, yowl, hiss and make a yelping sound called a chuff.
  9. Snow leopards have large feet that act like snow shoes, allowing them to move over ice and snow with relative ease.
  10. Launching themselves with their powerful legs, snow leopards can cover 15 metres (50 feet) in a single leap.

 

 

Image: Eric Kilby/flickr