1. IN NEPAL, THEIR MAIN PREY ARE BLUE SHEEP…WHICH AREN’T ACTUALLY BLUE
The snow leopard’s main prey in Nepal – blue sheep – will provide one snow leopard with food for a week.
2. BREEDING SEASON OCCURS ONCE A YEAR BETWEEN JANUARY AND MID-MARCH
Snow leopards communicate with one another through territorial marking methods, such as leaving scrape marks, scat, spraying rocks with ᴜʀɪɴᴇ, scratching on trees, and rubbing their face on rock surfaces. Unlike other big cats, snow leopards can’t roar. However, they can growl, hiss, spit, and make chuffing sounds. During breeding season, they will often communicate with loud yowling cries that carry across the mountain range. Outside of breeding season, snow leopards are primarily solitary. Sometimes siblings will stay together for some time after they venture from their mother. This cat is most active around dusk and dawn (crepuscular) and throughout the night (nocturnal), whereas people are active during the day (diurnal). In areas where there are few people, snow leopards may be more diurnal.
3. THEY’RE UNDER THREAT FROM HUMAN ACTIVITY
There could be as few as 4,000 leopards in the wild, however the exact number is unknown as they are extremely elusive. The main ᴛʜʀᴇᴀᴛs they face are habitat loss and deterioration, human-wildlife ᴄᴏɴfʟɪᴄᴛ, loss of prey, ᴘᴏᴀᴄʜing for the ɪʟʟᴇɢᴀʟ trade, and climate change. As a result, snow leopards really need our help, WWF is working alongside communities, Governments and other organisations to address some of the ᴛʜʀᴇᴀᴛs snow leopards face.
4. THEY CAN NEARLY COVER THE DISTANCE OF A MARATHON IN ONE NIGHT
Snow leopards can travel over an incredible 25 miles in a single night.
5. HIGH ALTITUDE ACROBATS
Snow leopards live at high altitudes, usually at elevations of 3,000-4,500m. They prefer steep, broken terrain like cliffs, rocky outcrops and ravines. Having short forelimbs and long hind legs help keep them agile in their steep and rugged environment.
6. THEY’RE WELL ADAPTED TO THEIR COLD ENVIRONMENT
Their fur keeps them well insulated in cold weather – it can be 5cm long on their back and sides and almost 12cm long on their belly. Snow leopards’ tails are 80-105cm long, they’re thought to aid balance and they also wrap them around themselves for added warmth.
7. LONG JUMP CHAMPIONS
The snow leopard would do well in most athletic events, it’s best potentially being the long jump. Some snow leopards have been known to leap up to 9 metres – 6 times their body length!
8. THEY’RE WELL DISGUISED
Snow leopards are really well camouflaged! Their long fur and less distinctive markings that seem to change shape with body movement make identifying individual snow leopards difficult compared to other big cats like tigers, leopards and jaguars, which have more distinctive markings.
9. THEY HAVE NATURAL SNOWSHOES
Snow leopards’ wide, fur-covered feet act as natural snowshoes – helping distribute their weight over soft snow and protecting them from the cold.
10. THEY’RE MORE CLOSELY RELATED TO TIGERS THAN THEY ARE LEOPARDS
Despite being called the snow ‘leopard’, this big cat is more closely related to the tiger than the leopard.