Snow leopard

Latin Name
Uncia uncia

Class
Mammals

Order
Carnivora

Description

A feline predator, the snow leopard can reach more than 4 feet in length and weigh up to 160 pounds. The species' gray, spotted fur can reach up to 1 inch in length on the back and 3 inches on the belly. The thickness helps keep the predator warm in its cold environment, and the spots provide camouflage. The long tail is used to aid balance while climbing and can also be wrapped over the face during freezing temperatures. Large, furry paws help keep the leopard warm and provide padding against the sharp rocks of its home.


 

Range

Snow leopards inhabit Central Asian mountain ranges from China to the Himalayas.


Status

Snow leopards are classified as endangered, largely due to poaching for their fur. Lincoln Park Zoo participates in the Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan®, a collaborative effort to conserve the species.


Habitat

This big predator lives in mountain forests at elevations ranging from 4,000-12,000 feet. They often retreat to lower elevations during winter.


Niche

An agile species, the snow leopard can make leaps over great distances to ambush prey. Sheep, boar, deer, rodents and other small mammals make up the bulk of the predator's diet.


Life History

The snow leopard is largely solitary, coming together only to breed. An average litter includes two-three cubs. The mother gives birth in a shelter lined with her own fur, and the cubs remain secluded for up to three months before venturing out. Young remain dependent on their mother for another year after leaving the den.




ARKive Media

ARKive image - Snow leopard cubs, captiveARKive video - Snow leopard in mountain habitat, hunting prey, female greeting juvenile at den siteARKive image - Snow leopard cub

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Lincoln Park Zoo Exhibit