Zoology A Closer Look: Uncia uncia

Discussion in 'Zoology' started by pineappleupsidedown, Dec 7, 2004.

  1. pineappleupsidedown

    pineappleupsidedown Premium Member

    Common name
    Snow Leopard

    Kingdom: Animalia
    Phylum: Chordata
    Subphylum: Vertebrata
    Class: Mammalia
    Order: Carnivora
    Family: Felidae
    Subfamily: Pantherinae
    Genus: Uncia
    Species: Uncia uncia


    Snow leopards live in mountain steppes and coniferous forest scrub at altitudes ranging from 2000 to 6000 meters. In the summer they frequent alpine meadows and rocky areas, and in the winter they may follow prey into forests below 1800 meters.

    Physical Description

    Base fur color ranges from light gray to smoke gray, shading to white on the belly. The head, neck, and lower limbs are covered with solid spots, while the rest of the body is covered with "rosettes," large rings that often enclose smaller spots. The fur is very thick, one inch long on the back, two inches long on the tail, and three inches long on the belly. Characteristically, the tails are extremely long in comparison to other cats, measuring almost as long as the body. They use the tail both for balance and covering their body, nose, and mouth during times of sub-zero temperatures. Also characteristic of snow leopards are the very large and furry paws, functioning both as snow shoes and padding against sharp rocks.

    Head and body length is 1000 to 1300 mm, tail length is 800 to 1000 mm.

    Socially, snow leopards are thought to be much like the tiger, essentially solitary but not totally asocial. They pair only during the mating season, when couples may inhabit a range together. Unlike many other cats, snow leopards do not roar. However, they let out a slight moan when trying to attract a mate, and individuals greet each other with quiet "chuffing" sounds. Snow leopards are primarily nocturnal but are most active in the early morning and late afternoon. Snow leopards are well known for their muscularity and agility with the ability to leap up to fifty feet horizontally and twenty feet vertically.

    Food Habits

    Their prey includes wild sheep, wild boar, hares, mice, deer, marmots, and other small mammals. They also feed on domestic livestock. Prey is either attacked or ambushed. Snow leopards attack usually from a distance up to fifteen meters and feed initially on the chest, lower abdomen, or thigh.

    Conservation Status

    The main threat to snow leopards is hunting for their fur. In 1981, the International Snow Leopard Trust was created in Seattle as a non-profit corporation working on conservation of the snow leopard and its mountain habitat.

    There are approximately 500 leopards in 150 zoos world-wide. Many zoos are involved in a snow leopard species survival project, a coordinated breeding program among zoos. The goal of this project is to maintain a genetically sound population in hope that these animals may someday be released into the wild. Other methods of conservation include habitat protection, captive breeding, stiff penalties for those harming them, and public education.
  2. drlau

    drlau Premium Member

    Snow leopards are so cool!

    I had my picture taken with one about 20 years ago (I think at the San Diego Zoo).

    I need to get on the ball here, pineapple - I'm falling behind.