Summary: Snow leopards are a fascinating creature. Read on to know more about them.
Elusive, captivating, and often called the “ghosts of the mountain”, snow leopards remain the greatest mystery in the world. Live in the high mountains of China, they are built for the cold and spend their lives crossing thousands of kilometres to feed and breed. It would be daunting for you to encounter them unless you know how to track them.
Do you want to witness these beautiful wild creatures amidst snow? Then, you should book a snow leopard safari. Designed by experienced tour guides, you can explore the land at your own comfort and style. Have some questions about these creatures that you want to get answers before booking a trip? Here, we have listed down a few questions and answers –
- What is the scientific name of the snow leopard?
The scientific name is Panthera uncia. Panthera is the type of the true big cats (leopards, lions, jaguars, and tigers), and the uncia part comes from the Old French word once that was originally the name for the lynx.
- How big is this mystic animal?
They are around 75-150cm from head to the base of the tail, while the tail adding on another 80-105cm – it makes them smaller than the other big cats. Generally, snow leopards weigh between 25-55kg, although some large males have been recorded weighing up to 75kg.
- Where do they live?
Snow leopards live in snowy, harsh, rugged alpine regions in central and south Asia. They can be found at elevations between 3,000 to 5,000 meters across a total of 12 different countries. But China is home to perhaps 60 per cent of the world’s population of snow leopards. The ideal snow leopard habitat is bleak, dangerous, cold, and desolate, where people never like to live.
- Do these big cats live in a group?
Adult snow leopards prefer solitude and interact with other leopards only during the breeding season. The cubs of snow leopards will stay with their mothers for at least 18 months. However, once they split up and start wandering among the vast mountain expanses, they never meet again.
- How long do they live?
Although captive snow leopards can live for up to 25 years, generally, the lifespan of a snow leopard in the wild is 15-18 years. And they reach sexual maturity at 2-3 years old.
- What do they eat?
Snow leopards are carnivores and they actively hunt their prey. But they also eat carrion at times. The most common prey of this animal is Himalayan blue sheep. Other food in a snow leopard’s diet may include markhor, Siberian ibex, Himalayan tahr, horse, argali, deer, and camel. And a single meal will keep a snow leopard going for two weeks. When they can’t find large prey, snow leopards often take smaller animals such as marmots, voles, and pika.
- What do they use their tails for?
The thick, long tail of snow leopard helps it to balance, especially to crest narrow ridges, hunt prey on difficult terrain, and negotiate treacherous crevasses. Perhaps most surprisingly, the reason snow leopard tails are so thick is that they use them for fat storage to help get them through lean times. Besides, a resting snow leopard can wrap its tail around its body like a scarf for extra warmth.
- How do they walk in deep snow?
Their paws are furry and provide them with inbuilt snowshoes that spread their body weight more evenly across the snow. Besides, the paws help muffle the sound of their movement and protect their toes from the biting cold.
Snow leopards are captivating animals. You can see and photograph them during a snow leopard safari. Do you want to explore other wild animals in this country? Book a China wild safari and experience the wild with passionate guides.
Author bio: Richard Smith is an experienced tour guide, who guides travellers during China wild safari. In this write-up, he has listed down a few questions and answers about snow leopards that will enrich your knowledge before you book snow leopard safari.