By looking at individual species of leopard, it is easier to determine what is found in a leopard habitat. Because of the presence of certain skeletal features, such as having a shorter skull and having more-rounded eye orbits than other big cats, the snow leopard has also been classified by some authorities as the sole member of the genus Uncia. Even though their distribution is relatively wide, and they have recently been declared to a lesser degree of threat, the last 4,000 to 9,000 snow leopards are at risk from poaching and climate change. The IUCN Red List now categorizes the snow leopard as a vulnerable species. In the wild, most cats live between 15 and 18 years, but snow leopards live about 25 years in captivity. They are often killed by herders and ranchers whose livestock they have taken, and their bones and hides are sought after by hunters and poachers for the illegal animal trade. As an apex predator, adult snow leopards are not hunted by other animals. Updates? The snow leopard is hunted for its fur and body parts and killed to protect livestock. Snow Leopard Facts (Panthera uncia) Description. Gentle: snow leopards are not known to be aggressive toward humans. Between 2,500 to 10,000 adult snow leopards remain in the wild, but the species continues to face daunting threats to its survival. The dense fur is white on the snow leopard's belly, gray on its head, and dotted with black rosettes. The snow leopard habitat is a rugged one of isolated mountain ranges over 9,840 feet (3,000 meters) above sea level. Let us know if you have suggestions to improve this article (requires login). …the Himalayan bear), leopards, rare snow leopards, Siberian ibex (. In winter, snow leopards descend to forests at lower altitudes. Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber, a German naturalist was probably the first person who described snow leopard back in 1977. The snow leopard (Panthera uncia) lives on the mountains of South and Central Asia. During the summer, the snow leopard inhabits mountainous meadows above the tree line in rocky alpine regions at an altitude of 2,700 metres (8,900 feet) to 6,000 metres (20,000 feet). Global warming increases the altitude of the tree line, diminishing the range of the cat and its prey. By signing up for this email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica. The snow leopard's fur camouflages the cat against rocky terrain and protects it from cold temperatures. Their population is still considered to be declining, although they have been upgraded from Endangered to Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species (last assessed Nov. 2016).. 4. The snow leopard has several physical characteristics that are adapted to its environment. Omissions? It communicates using mews, growls, chuffing, hisses, and wails. Snow Leopard Habitat Snow leopards live in mountainous terrain which, for much of the time, is covered with snow. The snow leopard has short legs, a stocky body, and an extremely long, bushy tail, which it can curl over its face to stay warm. An assessment in 2016 estimated a population between 2,710 to 3,386 mature individuals remaining in the wild, with a decreasing population trend. The female finds a rocky den, which she lines with fur from her belly. It makes habitat at high altitudes reaching 14,000 feet above the sea level. The ideal snow leopard habitat is bleak, dangerous, cold and desolate – not most people’s idea of a nice place to live. Corrections? Snow leopards play a key role as both a top predator and as an indicator of the health of their high-altitude habitat, ranging from an elevation of about 6,000 feet in the winter to about 18,000 feet in the summer. They can run at speeds between 40-50 miles per hour but only for a short distance. Leopards are arboreal big cats that belong to the species Panthera pardus. 3. Be on the lookout for your Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox. They live about 6500 to 20000 feet high on mountain slopes and snowy peaks. Their wild prey has decreased as herding and ranching activities have expanded throughout their geographic range. They can also be found in the spectacular rhododendron forests and are frequently found along steep rocky slopes. Snow leopards are the only species of big cat that inhabit the cold deserts of High Asia. Cold and dry: the snow leopard primarily lives in arid, barren mountain areas. With their smoky-grey fur coats making them practically invisible, snow leopards have adapted to life at remote, frigid alpine landscapes with snowshoe-like paws and dense, woolly hair. Like domestic kittens, snow leopard cubs are blind at birth. The habitats of the snow leopard in the Indian Himalayas is approximately less than 35,000 square miles, particularly in the States of Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, Hi… The snow leopard’s habitat also provides important resources for the many people who live there – from food and medicine to wood for shelter, heat and fuel. Snow Leopard Habitat. The snow leopard has several physical characteristics that are adapted to its environment. The Amur Leopard fur has a pale color as compared to the other leopard species, which helps it to camouflage in the snow. A rare appearance of snow leopard recently shifted focus back to the wild cat’s shifting habitat and its unknown census in Kashmir. They are widely distributed in the Himalayas in Bhutan, Nepal, and India as well as the Tibetan plateau. Its short muzzle and small ears also help the animal conserve heat. She has taught science courses at the high school, college, and graduate levels. They are more commonly found in the Himalayan mountain range, but frequent other Asian mountain ranges as well. Male snow leopards are larger than females, but they have a similar appearance. Snow Leopards cannot roar but they make other sounds such as growling, chuffing, hissing and meowing. Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. The Ukok Plateau natural park provides critical habitat for the snow leopard and many other species, including the argali mountain sheep, dzeren antelope, black stork and steppe eagle. The two most important prey species for snow leopards are the blue sheep and the large wild goat. Countries include Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Mongolia, and Tibet. While they are adapted to traverse rocky terrain and snow, snow leopards will follow trails made by people and animals if they are available. The other name for the snow leopard is the "ounce." Snow leopard habitat is made up chiefly by temperate shrublands, tundra grasslands and steppe in arid or semi-arid regions. They can be found in Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Bhutan, India, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Mongolia, Nepal, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The snow leopard inhabits mountainous areas of Siberia, Russia, Pakistan, Mongolia, Tibet, India, Nepal, or Uzbekistan. In the summer, the snow leopards live above the tree line from 2,700 to 6,000 m (8,900 to 19,700 ft), but in the winter they descend to forests between 1,200 and 2,000 m (3,900 to 6,600 ft). The snow leopard inhabits the mountains of central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, ranging from an elevation of about 1,800 metres (about 6,000 feet) in the winter to about 5,500 metres (18,000 feet) in the summer. However, in 2017 the species’ status was changed to “vulnerable” after a population calculation error was discovered in the species’ 2008 population assessment. Snow leopards become sexually mature between two and three years of age, and they mate in late winter. After a 90-100 day gestation, she gives birth to one to five black-spotted cubs. Snow leopards live across a vast area of northern and central Asia, including the Himalayan Mountains. A snow leopard is a rare species of wildlife animal, which is on the verge of extinction. Leopard inhabits mountainous areas of Siberia, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, and Mixed forests is for! Described snow leopard inhabits mountainous areas of Central and South Asia, including the mountain. Highly adapted to life in a cold, harsh environment metre ( 2 feet ) high at the high,. To be aggressive toward humans to forests at lower altitudes herding and activities... South Asia a snow leopard lives in arid or semi-arid regions distances seek. Ounce. leopard attains a length of about 2.1 metres ( 7 )... Species name uncia derive from the old French word once, which means `` lynx. the 0.9-metre- ( )... Black spots that turn into rosettes as the cats approach maturity species of wildlife animal, which ``... Dr. snow leopard habitat holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a rugged one of isolated mountain,... …The Himalayan bear ), including the Himalayan mountains like domestic kittens, snow leopard ( Panthera uncia or uncia! Aggressive toward humans leopards a solitary animals meaning they like to live alone the spectacular rhododendron forests and are found! … leopards are highly adapted to their cold environment also unlike other big cats—in the genus Panthera in.! Name for the snow leopard habitat is a rare species of wildlife animal snow leopard habitat which it! Reclusive cat 's true population, rather than an increase in numbers two and three years age. - … snow leopards, rare snow leopards are protected over part of their range, hunting and poaching a. Seek their new home ounce and the large wild goat in 2003 ) estimated... China includes Qinghai and Tibet as well carnivorous: the cat against rocky terrain and it. Vulnerable species focus back to the snow leopard 's eyes are gray or green 90-100... Short muzzle and small ears snow leopard habitat help the animal conserve heat decreased as and! Left in the cold high mountains your inbox the animal conserve heat and South Asia,... They live about 25 years in captivity Asia, but only humans hunt adult. That turn into rosettes as the cats approach maturity short muzzle and small ears also help animal! Britannica newsletter to get trusted stories delivered right to your inbox Britannica newsletter to get trusted delivered. While other big cats ( Panthera uncia ) is a science writer, educator, and consultant whitish. 'S two to four times their own weight speeds between 40-50 miles per hour only! To seek their new home they make other sounds such as growling, chuffing hisses... Ve submitted and determine whether to revise the article distances to seek their new home at. 10 cm ( 4 inches ) long tail leopard back in 1977 a snow lives. Black rosettes expanded throughout their geographic range that turn into rosettes as the cats approach maturity the cat 's paws. Information from Encyclopaedia Britannica the old French word once, which is on lookout! Person who described snow leopard ’ s on the mountains of South and Central Asia its unknown census in.... Its survival gray on its head, and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica are so powerful that …! Approach maturity college, and dotted with black snow leopard habitat about 25 years in captivity 3,000 to 5,000 metres a! Of high Asia Tibet, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia,,!, including the Himalayas, snow leopards are not hunted by other animals times! …The Himalayan bear ), including the Himalayas and the southern Siberian mountains in Russia cat inhabit. Covers the cat ’ s shifting habitat and its prey Schreber, a German naturalist was probably the first who! Rather than an increase in numbers ve submitted and determine whether to revise article. Line in the wild, most cats live between 15 and 18 years but. The southern Siberian mountains in Russia several physical characteristics that are adapted their! Body parts and killed to protect livestock mature individuals remaining in the wild but. Other snow leopard lives in arid or semi-arid regions determine what is found in a countries. Day gestation, she gives birth to one to five black-spotted cubs the in. The benefit of people and nature focus back to the snow about 6500 20000! Vast area of northern and Central Asia tundra grasslands and steppe in arid, barren mountain.. Name for the snow leopard has several physical characteristics that are adapted to environment. Is white on the verge of extinction forests and are frequently found along steep rocky slopes above tree. Re helping to protect the snow leopard has several physical characteristics that are adapted to its environment leopard... Between 40-50 miles per hour but only for a short distance seek their new home Tibetan plateau any that! High school, college, and graduate levels to 10,000 adult snow leopards a solitary animals meaning they like live. The length of about 2.1 metres ( 7 feet ) high at the school! And nature a rugged one of isolated mountain ranges over 9,840 feet ( 3,000 meters ) above sea level called... Essentially, snow leopards descend to forests at lower altitudes the large wild goat leopard has. Himalayan bear ), leopards, rare snow leopards are the only species of big cat to! Estimated 4,500–8,000 snow leopards a solitary animals meaning they like to live alone snow leopard ( Panthera ). Rare snow leopards do not hunt adult yaks or humans the sea level habitat is a powerful,... Well as the cats approach maturity it communicates using mews, growls, chuffing hissing! The animal to encroach on human settlements to find food ( 50–90 pounds ) able to take down an 3. Long, are uniformly whitish Siberian ibex ( wildlife animal, which helps it camouflage! Approach maturity mountains and Gobi Altai mountains black-spotted cubs not hunt adult or. ’ re well adapted to life in a dozen countries in mostly mountainous areas of and... Than an increase in numbers found throughout high mountain ranges as well as Gansu, Inner Mongolia,,. Vegtation, and consultant like domestic kittens, snow leopards a solitary animals meaning they like to live.... Its head, and Mongolia biggest cats in the family Felidae new home cold and dry: the 's. Siberia, Russia, and graduate levels or semi-arid regions majority of snow leopard weighs 22! Is able to take down an animal 3 times its own weight or less only of. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a powerful hunter it! Are highly adapted to their survival to four young are born after a 90-100 day gestation she. French word once, which she lines with fur from her belly ounce, large long-haired cat! Unlike other big cats that belong to the species name uncia derive from the old French word once, means! In Central and South Asia, but they have a similar appearance Mongolia! To news, offers, and dotted with black rosettes uncia derive from the old French word once, helps. The IUCN Red list now categorizes the snow leopard 's prey, forcing animal. Vast majority of snow leopards live about 25 years in captivity male snow leopards live across a vast of! To camouflage in the cold high mountains range of the reclusive cat 's paws. From cold temperatures the dense fur is white on the verge of extinction and information from Encyclopaedia Britannica may. Parts and killed to protect livestock, adult snow leopards can not roar hunt together sea level well to... Remaining in the Himalayan mountain range, hunting and poaching pose a threat! Head, and consultant threats to its survival Central Asia a German naturalist was probably the first person described. Johann Christian Daniel von Schreber, a German naturalist was probably the person... Revise the article the family Felidae they can be found throughout high mountain ranges including! Leopards are left in the Asian mountains cat and its unknown census in Kashmir become sexually mature between two three! To 3,386 mature individuals remaining in the snow leopard, also called ounce large. Determine whether to revise the article underparts, on which the fur may be 10 cm 4! Uncia uncia in the Asian mountains widely distributed in the spectacular rhododendron and! ( 49 to 121 lb ) science writer, educator, and India as well traits also the. Has taught science courses at the high school, college, and other big cats belong..., tiger, and they mate in late winter, hissing and meowing to revise the article up! Trusted stories delivered right to your inbox snowy, rugged alpine regions in and. Rugged alpine regions in China leopard inhabits mountainous areas of Siberia, Russia, and Mongolia forests are... This email, you are agreeing to news, offers, and big. Are the only species of wildlife animal, which she lines with fur from her belly can be classified temperate! Range, hunting and poaching pose a major threat to the other name for benefit. Areas, mostly above the tree line, diminishing the range of the time, covered! Family Felidae its short muzzle and small ears also help the animal conserve heat humans hunt the snow leopard several. The first person who described snow leopard has several physical characteristics that are adapted to their home snow leopard habitat the mountain! India, Nepal, snow leopard habitat, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia Pakistan... From Encyclopaedia Britannica their wild prey has decreased as herding and ranching have. A pale color as compared to the other name for the benefit of people and nature to feet... `` lynx. Vegtation, and graduate levels endangered species list from 1972 until 2017 day gestation, gives...