Where Do Snow Leopards Sleep?

October 27, 2023

In the rugged landscapes where snow leopards dwell, finding a spot to sleep is no easy task. The elusive cats prefer rocky outcrops or crevices that offer concealment and a good vantage point to monitor their surroundings. But even these rugged vantage points can be cold, and so these cats often find themselves in dens that are insulated by a layer of snow.

Panthera uncia is built for the cold, with thick grey and yellow-tinged fur, solid spots on the head and neck, and rosettes over the rest of the body. Its long tail acts as a rudder when leaping and also wraps around its face during cold, freezing weather. Its paw pads act as snow shoes, gripping rocky frozen ground for traction. Its powerful hind legs allow it to jump seven times its own body length.

Snow leopards are solitary animals, and they spend most of the day resting or hunting. They stalk their prey during the darkness of the day, which can include wild sheep and ibex. They are a very adaptable species as radio-collar studies show they can change their habits to be more like that of their prey.

While it’s hard to know how many of these big cats remain, they are under threat throughout their range. Their population is believed to have dropped by 20 percent since the early 1990s, and their numbers in 12 countries are just a fraction of what they once were.

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