Snow leopards are probably my favorite cat, and possibly my favorite animal. Snow leopards are extremely rare in the wild mainly due to hunting for their fur. There are only about 4,500 to 7,000 left in their wild home of the Central Asian Himalayan mountains. The snow leopard, or Uncia uncia, can live up to 21 years in the wild. When they reach old age, they usually have assorted health problems, making it difficult to hunt. Then, they will attack herders’ livestock.
The Magnificent Snow Leopard
Besides when old age finally catches up to them, they are fantastic hunters. Snow leopards have smoky grey fur with solid brown spots on the neck and lower limbs to camouflage them in the cold Himalayan mountains. Their thick fur insulates them, They also have a very long tail which acts as a balancing beam when hunting on steep ridges, which can be as high as 6,000 meters above sea level. Their short legs, and wide, furry paws act as silent snowshoes. Everything in this animal is finely tuned for survival in the mountains. They can grow up over a meter long, 60cm high at the shoulder, and 45-55 kg. Despite their relatively average size, snow leopards can bring down prey almost three times their own size. They usually eat the local markhor, marmots, musk deer, and pica.
Snow leopards are crepuscular (active at dawn and dusk) and are usually solitary, although males and females sometimes hunt together during the breeding season. A single snow leopard has a huge hunting range of around 160 sq.km because of the lack of prey. Finally, just as a bit of trivia, snow leopards are the only big cat that cannot roar.
P.S. I had to throw this in here somewhere so: Hooray Obama! On to the White House!