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The main prey of snow leopards are sheep and goats, but they eat a variety of prey, including smaller animals such as marmots, hares, rabbits, pheasants and voles.
Snow leopards are found in 12 countries in central Asia: Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. They usually live in remote mountainous habitats with steep cliffs, ridges and ravines.
The litter size of snow leopards can vary from 1 to 5 cubs. Mothers give birth in caves or rock crevices, and stay in or near the den to look after the cubs for the first week. Cubs weigh between 320g and 567g at birth, but by ten weeks old they may weigh 6kg! At between two and four months old the cubs start to follow their mothers when they hunt, but won’t be much help at first. Young leave their mothers at about two years of age.
Snow leopards are the top predators in their habitat.
Snow leopards face a number of threats, including competition with livestock for food, habitat degradation, a fall in the number of their prey, being killed in retaliation for killing livestock and poaching for their fur, bones and other body parts.
Lots of conservation efforts are being undertaken to help snow leopards, including creating protected areas within their range; anti-poaching measures; schemes to reduce retaliatory killings by herders such as strengthening livestock pens; community engagement programmes; and education programmes to raise awareness of snow leopards.
Size Head-body: 86-125 cm; tail: 80-105 cm
Weight 22-52 kg.
Gestation 94-103 days
Life span 10-20 years
Snow leopards are able to kill prey three times their own weight.
In winter the fur on their back and sides can be 5cm long and on their stomachs it can be almost 12cm long.
Snow leopards use their long, thick tail to help them balance when moving about in their steep mountain homes.
Snow leopards are most active at dawn and dusk, but may hunt at any time of the day or night.
Snow leopards have been seen chasing prey across slopes and down mountain-sides for 200 to 300m.