Story By: Jason Abels Assistant Director,
Tigerhomes Animal Sanctuary
The Snow Leopard is
perhaps one of the most beautiful of all the BIG CATS! Found
Afghanistan and Tibet, Snow Leopards
inhabit high rocky mountainous elevations in the summer. A Snow Leopard's fur coat is typically creamy white to gray with scattered black leopard
spots or Leopard Rosettes.
These spots or rosettes are very similar to that of the African
Leopard and that of the Asian Leopard, only they
are primarily black over creamy gray instead of being over yellow,
orange or even reddish fur.
Leopards are an extremely rare species of leopard and are
classified as an Endangered Species
by the USDI and the
Soviet Union, SPECIES
by the USDI and the
Soviet Union, and are listed on APPENDIX ONE with
CITIES. They estimate that there is less than
11,000 individuals left in
the wild with less then 400 captive leopards represented in
zoological facilitites. David and I both have been very fortunate
to have worked with this truly remarkable feline in the past.
Stereotypically, the Snow Leopard along with the Clouded Leopard and the African Spotted Cheetah are
incredibly more relaxed and calm in nature. This is not to
say that they are tame or
trust worthy in ANYWAY! They are not! It is just that of all
the BIG CATS, these species tend to be more at ease and relaxed
and are less apt to constantly go for the “DEATH
ya ;-)! To those of us that are fortunate enough to have the
privilege to do what we love and to work with nature’s
most remarkable creatures, this fact is extra interesting,
particularly concerning the Leopard species. African and Asian
Leopards in general are notoriously tough cats to deal with.
These cats usually establish a relationship with only one animal handler and are typically aggressive with attitude. Leopards
always go for the bite, while tigers are content sometimes
to just hold onto you. Anyhow, tiger and leopard behavior is
another subject that I will write about in our “Education Center ”.
Snow Leopards are
classified as PANTHERA UNICA.
Some scientists feel that the Snow Leopard should be reclassified
as something other than “PANTHERA”. This is due
to little know anatomical feature surrounding the cats HYOID
APPARATUS. Other members of Panthera have an elastic cartilage
band that covers a gap in the incompletely ossified HYIOD BONE.
It is believed that this elastic apparatus (SMALL CATS do not
possess) is what is makes roaring possible while limiting purring
only to times of exhaling (small cats can purr while inhaling & exhaling).
The mystery in the theory is that the Snow Leopard (Panthera
unica) does not roar even though it does possess this elastic
structure on its hyoid apparatus. This is not to say that the
Snow Leopard does not communicate vocally, they certainly do.
Snow Leopard vocalizations are varied. Even though they do
not roar, they do produce many sounds including chirps and
a characteristic “LOUD MOAN”.
Like the tiger, the snow leopard is primarily a solitary animal
even though they are know to be very social at times with other
members of their own kind. Like the Siberian Tiger, the Snow
Leopard requires large home ranges of habitat. Baby Snow Leopard
are usually born from April to Mid-June. A normal snow leopard gestation period averages about 101 days were 1 to 5 baby leopards are born in a rocky den. Assuming the babies survive, they
will become sexually mature in 2 to 3 years.
We hope you found
this information interesting and informative. We hope to
be posting some great
SNOW LEOPARD PICTURES including
PICTURES OF BABY
SNOW LEOPARDS up soon. In the meantime, take
the time to enjoy the Sanctuary’s multiple WEB
CAMERAS set up in the large NATURALISTIC
HABITATS of AFRICAN LIONS,
AND WHITE RUFFED LEMURS,
RUFFED LEMURS, RING
TAILED LEMURS, BROWN LEMURS and our
brand new LEOPARD CAM were you can now
observe Sampson, the Sanctuary’s adult male AFRICAN
LIVE WEB CAMS