The snow leopard has a gray fur coat that keeps it warm in its cold mountain home. Learn facts about this wild cat, like where it lives, what it eats, how far it can jump, and why there are not many snow leopards left in the wild.

What Is a Snow Leopard?

Let’s go on a winter hiking trip in the mountains. There will be lots of snow and cold weather, so you’ll need to pack a really warm coat and take along a pair of snowshoes, so your feet don’t sink into the snow. Do you have everything you need? Great, let’s go and meet your guide.

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Wow! This mountain range in Central Asia is really big. As you look around, you notice that the mountain is rocky and covered in snow. Wait, what is that?

A snow leopard
snow

It’s a snow leopard! Snow leopards are wild cats with wide paws and a gray coat with black markings. You’re lucky to see this animal because it’s an endangered species, meaning there are very few surviving in the wild. Your guide told you snow leopards live in the mountains of Central Asia, which runs through 12 different countries, including China, India, and Russia.

What Does a Snow Leopard Look Like?

The first thing you notice about this medium-sized wild cat is the cool markings on its fur. The snow leopard’s coat is gray with solid black spots on its head and legs and circular markings on the rest of its body. The guide tells you that its fur is thick, which keeps the cat warm in this cold environment. He adds that the coloring of the snow leopard’s fur allows it to blend in with the surroundings, which helps it sneak up on prey.

Snow leopards have strong back legs and long tails.
snow

The next thing you notice is that the snow leopard has muscular back legs. Its powerful legs make it a great jumper. It can jump a distance of 45 feet. That would be like jumping over a school bus!

The fur on its body covers its long tail and wide paws. The tail of the snow leopard can be used for balance and as a blanket. Its big paws act like your snowshoes and help the cat walk through the snow.

What Does It Eat?

I think the snow leopard sees us! Luckily he is running away from us and not toward us! Snow leopards can attack animals that are bigger than them, but they typically eat wild sheep, boar, goats, and deer, or catch smaller animals, like mice, hares, and marmots, which are rodents that look like groundhogs. Snow leopards will also eat livestock and pets, which gets them into trouble with people.

Life Cycle

Snow leopards like to live alone and only come together for mating season. The female gives birth to a litter of cubs in the spring or summer months. A litter usually consists of two to three cubs. The young stay with their mother for up to two years before leaving to start life on their own.

This cub likes hanging out with its mom.
cub

The lifespan of a snow leopard living in the wild is about eight to ten years. But, humans are threatening their survival. Ranchers kill snow leopards to prevent them from eating their livestock, and people kill them for their beautiful fur coats and their bones, which are used in Chinese medicines.

Lesson Summary

A snow leopard is a wild cat with wide paws and a thick gray coat with black markings. These body features help them survive in the cold and rocky terrain of the mountains of Central Asia, which is where they live. The snow leopard is an endangered animal, mostly because they are hunted for their beautiful fur coats.