Snow leopard

Scientific Name: Panthera uncia
Irish Name: Liopard sneachta
IUCN Status: Vulnerable

Snow leopards are big cats known for their beautiful silver, white and black fur and green eyes. They have thick woolly-furred coats, large heads with powerful jaws. They have short stocky limbs for climbing and extra large paws that act like snowshoes.  They have a long thick furry tail which they use as a scarf to keep their heads warm in the cold mountainous climates they live in.

Snow leopard

Snow leopards are big cats known for their beautiful silver, white and black fur and green eyes. They have thick woolly-furred coats, large heads with powerful jaws. They have short stocky limbs for climbing and extra large paws that act like snowshoes.  They have a long thick furry tail which they use as a scarf to keep their heads warm in the cold mountainous climates they live in.

General Information

Where do they live? (Natural habitat)

They live in the mountains of Central Asia, in most areas they are found at between 3000m and 5400 m above sea level.

How long do they live?

10-12 years in the wild, up to 20 in zoos.

What do they eat?

Their main sources of food are the blue sheep (also known as bharal), the Asiatic ibex (a large wild goat), and the argali, a wild mountain sheep. They eat a large animal every 8-10 days.

Group name

Snow leopards are solitary and highly elusive animals.

Zoo location

Asian Forests

Closest related species / sister species

Tiger (Panthera tigris)

Animal class

Mammalia

Animal order

Carnivora

Fun facts

Fluffy paws

Snow leopards have extra large paws that act like snowshoes to keep them from sinking in the snow.

The long jump

Snow leopards can jump as far as 15m and can jump 6m vertically.

Can you hear me?

Snow leopards are unable to roar unlike other big cats. They make a range of other noises including hisses, growls and mews.

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Family Life

The snow leopard leads a solitary life. Snow leopards come together to mate, will stay together for about a week, in that time they will hunt together. The male leaves and the female will give birth and raise the cubs on her own.

Baby name

Cub

Gestation (pregnancy) period

90 to 105 days

Number of young at birth

1-5 cubs ( on average 2)

Weight at birth

300 to 600 grams

Age at maturity

3 years for females, 4 for males

Adult male name

Male

Adult female name

Female

Size male adult

25-75kg with the average being 35-45kg

Size female adult

25-75kg with the average being 35-45kg

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Conservation

Vulnerable

The snow leopard is listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation in Nature

Current population estimate

The IUCN estimates between 2,700-3,380 individuals.

Threats

Habitat loss and fragmentation, climate change, human-wildlife conflict and illegal wildlife trade.

What is Dublin Zoo doing?

In 2009, Dublin Zoo began working with the Snow Leopard Trust. The Snow Leopard Trust was founded in 1981 and is now the leading authority on the study and protection of snow leopards. Their conservation philosophy is based on sound science and research coupled with building community partnerships.

The funding from Dublin Zoo is going towards five on-going, sustainable and community-driven projects in Mongolia. India and Pakistan.

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FAQs

  • Why are snow leopards endangered?

    Snow leopards are no longer Endangered (per IUCN reclassifying them as Vulnerable). However, human conflict is a large reason for why their numbers have dwindled in recent decades. Snow leopards often hunt farm animals.

  • What do snow leopards eat?

    Their main sources of food are the blue sheep (also known as bharal), the Asiatic ibex (a large wild goat), and the argali, a wild mountain sheep. They eat a large animal every 8-10 days.

  • Where do snow leopards live?

    Snow leopards live in Central Asia (Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan).

  • How many snow leopards are left in the world?

    The IUCN estimates between 2710-3386 individuals.

  • How big is a snow leopard?

    Snow leopards are between 75cm to 150cm from head to base of tail, tail is 80cm-105cm.

  • How long do snow leopards live?

    Snow leopards can live up to 10-12 years in the wild, up to 20 in zoos.

  • How much does a snow leopard weigh?

    25-75kg with the average being 35-45kg.

  • How fast can a snow leopard run?

    Snow leopards can run at top speeds of up to 65km per hour.

  • What is a snow leopard's habitat?

    Snow leopards live high up in the mountains of Central Asia.

  • How far can a snow leopard jump?

    Snow leopards can jump as far as 15m and can jump 6m vertically.

  • Why are snow leopards important?

    Snow leopards are top predators in their environment, they prey on herbivores. This helps keep population in control so that the area doesn’t become over-grazed and no food for other wildlife.

  • Do snow leopards live in caves?

    Snow leopards will live anywhere within their habitat, which would include caves.

  • How can we help snow leopards?

    We can help save snow leopards by supporting projects like the The Snow Leopard Trust who work to mitigate revenge killings and other conflicts.

  • How do snow leopards breathe?

    Snow leopards have a short but wide nasal cavities that heats the freezing air prior to it reaching the lungs.

  • How do snow leopards breathe?

    Snow leopards have a short but wide nasal cavity heats the freezing air prior to it reaching the lungs.

  • How do snow leopards catch their prey?

    Snow leopards hunt their prey, usually from above, and then pounce on it.

  • How many babies can a snow leopard have?

    Snow leopards have between 1-5 cubs with 2 being the average.

  • How much does a female snow leopard weigh?

    25-75kg with the average being 35-45kg.

  • How much does a snow leopard eat per day?

    Snow leopards eat every 8-10 days, eating large animals but they will settle for much smaller prey items if that’s all that’s available.

  • How often do snow leopards have babies?

    Snow leopards have babies every 2 years.

  • How can I help to save snow leopards?

    We can help save snow leopards by supporting projects like the The Snow Leopard Trust. The Snow Leopard Trust works to mitigate revenge killings and other conflicts.

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