The Snow Leopard
The snow leopard is a moderately large cat native to the mountain ranges of Central Asia, in the Animalia kingdom. The Snow Leopard is of the Chordata phylum and the Mammalia class. The Snow leopard is also a carnivore and belongs to the Felidae family (Tonhouse, 2011). It is part of the Uncia Family and is considered to be part of the Panthera Uncia species (Panthera uncia, 2012). The species is disputed between Panthera uncia and Uncia uncia, but the International Union Conservation of Nature (IUCN) puts the snow leopard in the Panthera uncia according to their genetic analysis (Panthera uncia, 2012).
The habitat of the snow leopard is mountainous region of Central Asia. The long harsh winters combined with the rigorous mountains show how well the snow leopard has adapted to its habitat. Snow leopards natural habitat is in Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan (Snow Leopard, 2012). The range of the snow leopard is about 1.3 million square miles (Snow Leopard, 2012). China holds 60 percent of the snow leopard habitat (Snow Leopard, 2012). Snow Leopards are medium in size in relation to a tiger and can grow to be between 60 to 120 pounds in weight (Leopard, 2012). The male snow leopard is generally bigger than most females (Snow Leopard, 2012). The snow leopard body ranges from 39 inches to 51 inches, with their tales approximately the same length as their body (Leopard, 2012). The snow leopard has smoky grey fur with a wooly undercoat. The snow leopard has spotted coat in combination with the smoky grey coat that makes the cat very camouflaged in the high altitudes that it lives (Leopard, 2012).
The snow leopard has adapted to the mountain life by its strong developed chest, short forelimbs, longer hind limbs, long tail, enlarged nasal cavity, large paws, and its fur with its undercoat (Leopard, 2012). The strong chest gives the cat the ability to maneuver up and down the steep terrain of the mountains. This in combination of the long forward limbs and hind limbs help the cat up and down the mountains. The large paws give the ability to get through the snow and act as a snowshoe (Snow Leopard, 2012). With all these adaptations, the snow leopard can leap between 30 and 50 feet. This is roughly six times its body length (Snow Leopard, 2012). The snow leopard also has short rounded ears and a wide short nasal cavity for survival in a cold environment (Leopard, 2012). This helps in the reduction of heat loss and keeps the leopard warmer using less energy (Leopard, 2012). The snow leopards tail is used for balance, but also for warmth (Leopard, 2012).
The snow leopard has several unique features for survival in the cold mountainous regions, but they also help the snow leopard in the hunt. The pattern on the fur coat camouflages the cat so it can sneak up on its prey and be very stealthy on their hunt for food (Leopard, 2012). Snow Leopards are predators and their diet depends on where the snow leopard is hunting (Snow Leopard, 2012). Since the snow leopards hunt in the mountains the food consists of mostly blue sheep, wild goat, and wild argali sheep (Snow Leopard, 2012). The snow leopard can eat prey up to three times their weight, but can also eat smaller prey (Snow Leopard, 2012). This consists of marmots, hares, and birds like the snow cock and chukar (Snow Leopard, 2012). In one year, a snow leopard that was being tracked ate five blue sheep, nine Tibetan wooly hares, twenty-five marmots, five domestic goats, one domestic sheep, and fifteen birds. Snow leopards are opportunistic hunters, and have been known to kill livestock (Leopard, 2012). Snow leopards are solitary in their natural habitat, and snow leopards are active at dawn and dusk (Leopard, 2012). Snow leopards can stay in one area for several days and then abruptly move many...
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