Providing a Safe and Caring Environment for Exotic Animals

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Snow Leopards

scientific

Panthera uncia

Appearance

The exotic-looking snow leopard has gray-green eyes, and long, thick, smoke-gray fur patterned with large dark rosettes and spots. The head is small with a high forehead, and the ears are short and rounded. The snow leopard has comparatively short legs and large broad paws. Size: Slightly smaller than the common leopard, snow leopards weigh 25-75 kilograms(55-165 pounds). This cat has an exceptionally long thick tail, which can be 80-100 centimeters (31.5-39.25 inches) long, almost as long as the head and body, which measures 100-130 centimeters (39.25-51.25 inches).

Diet

The snow leopard preys mainly on blue sheep and marmots, though it is also known to feed on musk deer, ibex, markhor, pika, hare, and birds. These cats eat willow twigs and other vegetation, and are known to kill domestic goats and sheep.

Habitat / Distribution

This cat is found in steep and rugged terrain at high elevations. Snow leopards have been recorded in high rocky areas, alpine meadows, alpine steppe scrub, and high altitude forests. They generally live above the tree line at elevations of 2,700-6,000 meters (8,900-19,700 feet). During winter the snow leopard may descend to lower elevations, but in summer it moves back up the mountain to the steepest and most remote terrain. The snow leopard lives in the mountainous regions of Central Asia. It is rare and very patchily distributed within large geographical areas but can be found in parts of the USSR, Mongolia, China, Nepal, Bhutan, India, Pakistan, and possibly Afghanistan.

Reproduction / Social System

Births occur from April to June, and two or three cubs are born after a gestation period of 90-103 days. The cubs eat their first solid food when they are about two months old, and a month later begin to follow their mother when she goes hunting. The cubs probably leave their natal range at about two years. They have a solitary social system. Pairs have been seen hunting together but it is not known if they were male and female or mother and young. Males and females probably have overlapping ranges.