One of the most beautiful wild cats there is, is the snow leopard. Although slightly smaller than other large wild cats, the snow leopard is considered a large breed of cat that is indigenous to Central and Southern Asia. It is related to the Panther cats, according to the genetic studies done on the breed, and have two subspecies that have been identified as being related to them. Snow Leopards are well adaptive to cold temperatures, and actually spend most of their time in high elevations, typically ranging from 3,000 to 4,500 feet above sea level. These beautiful creatures are not as plentiful as the more popularly known Leopard cat, and not as much is known about them by the average person, but there is a lot to learn and love about them. If you have ever seen a picture or documentary on the Snow Leopard, then you know they look a lot like the typical leopard, but there are some differences that you probably don’t know. So keep reading to learn five things you never knew about the Snow Leopard.
1. On the vulnerable list of species
There are a lot of animals that end up going down in population for one reason or another. Before they go into extinction, they must be saved and preserved from being wiped out completely. The Snow Leopard is one that has been decreasing in population over the years, and one reason is due to the loss of prey animals. This has happened from overgrazing by domestic livestock. Snow Leopards are also animals that are often poached, and the combination of these issues has caused the number of these cats to have a global population of between 4,500 and 8,745 mature animals.
2. Have unusual eyes
When most people think of wild cats, they think of piercing yellow or gold eyes, although different wild cats can have different colored eyes. The Snow Leopard is one that has unusually colored eyes, and they are typically pale green or grey in color.
3. Built different than regular Leopards for colder temperatures
Snow Leopards are built different than your typical leopard due to their need to be able to withstand colder temperatures. They have long, thick fur that is smoky gray to a yellowish tan color, paired with white-colored underparts. The Snow Leopard is stockier than a regular leopard and they have small, round ears that help to reduce the amount of heat loss. Their body weight is more evenly distributed due to their wider paws, which enables them to better walk on snow and icy grounds. For better balance on these tough terrains, Snow Leopards have long, flexible tails, and they are thicker, too, due to the amount of fat storage they need for the cold temperatures. In high altitudes, the air is thin and hard to breathe, which is why these leopards have short muzzles and domed foreheads that house extra large nasal cavities. They need these large cavities to be able to breathe better in their mountainous homes.
4. Snow Leopards can’t roar
Most wild cats roar, which is how they communicate to their own kind, and other animals of the wild. You would think that the Snow Leopard would be no different, but they are. Snow Leopards cannot roar and this is in part, due to morphological changes that have taken place with this breed. These cats are missing a larynx, which is needed to roar, so instead, Snow Leopards make different noises to communicate, which include mews, growls, wailing, hisses, and chuffing.
5. Not considered aggressive to humans
Many different types of wild cats have been known to be aggressive towards humans, or at least there have been some reports of attacks on humans by the different types of wild cats at some time or another, all except for the Snow Leopard. There have not been any reports of an attack on humans by this breed of cat, which means that they appear to be the least aggressive towards humans of an cat breed. Because of this, these are typically the easiest cat breed for farmers and other livestock keepers, to shew them away and they will readily abandon their own kill if they feel threatened as opposed to defending themselves, even if they, themselves, are being attacked.