|Size:||Length: 39 to 51 inches (100 to 130 cm)|
|Weight:||60 to 155 pounds (27 to 70 kg)|
|Diet:||Sheep, goats, deer, boar, marmots, mice and other small mammals|
|Young:||1 to 5 cubs, once every two years|
|Lifespan:||15 to 19 years in captivity|
· Snow leopards can spring and pounce on prey up to 50 feet (15 m) away.
· Snow leopards are sometimes called “ounces.”
· A snow leopard covers its nose and mouth with its tail during extremely cold weather.
· Snow leopards do not roar, but they make several vocalisations, such as huffs and moans.
· The non-profit corporation International Snow Leopard Trust was created in Seattle in 1981 to conserve the snow leopard and its habitat.
Snow leopards have spots on their head, neck and legs, and rosettes (brownish patches surrounded by smaller black spots) on their body, while the base colour of the coat is grey with white undersides. Their tail is extremely long—almost as long as their body. Their paws are extra large and furry, enabling them to walk over top of snow much like snowshoes. Their fur is thick to protect them against the cold weather. Males are larger than females.
Snow leopards inhabit the Himalayas and other high mountain ranges of Central Asia, from northwestern China to Tibet. This area includes 12 countries including Afghanistan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan and Russia.
Snow leopards prey on animals such as sheep, goats, deer, boar, marmots and even mice. They stalk their prey until they are close enough, and then leap from a distance onto the victim, biting it in the neck. Although they are usually solitary hunters, they may sometimes be found in small groups or pairs, especially during mating season.
Mating takes place from late winter to early spring. Males have an extremely large territory that encompasses the territories of several females. When a female comes into heat, the male knows by the scent markings she leaves behind. The couple rub their faces against each other in greeting. Gestation lasts from 94 to 100 days, and the female gives birth in a cave or rocky shelter lined with her fur to keep the cubs warm. The cubs are born with their eyes closed, but with warm woolly coats. The eyes open in seven to nine days, and in two to three months they begin to follow their mother out of the den. They remain dependent on her for food for approximately one year, and spend the winter with her in the den. By spring, the cubs set off on their own. They are fully mature and ready to reproduce by the age of two or three.
Snow leopards are active by night but are occasionally seen in the early morning. They are extremely shy of humans however, and it is a rare occurrence for one to be spotted in the wild.
Snow leopards are on several endangered lists, and they are now protected. There are believed to be less than 2,000 in the wild and approximately 500 in captivity.