Saturday, April 27, 2013

Snow Leopard

Uncia uncia
Happy 3 years of animals everybody! Wow, it's weird to think it's been that long already!

Today we'll be learning all about the rare and beautiful Snow Leopard, an endangered species of cat that lives in the snowy mountains of Asia. These striking creatures have thick furry coats, stocky bodies, wide paws, and small ears. All of those traits help them to survive in cold, rocky climates. Another great adaptation?  Their tails! They have tails that help them to balance while moving about, and they can nearly double the overall body length.

Snow Leopards are solitary, and the only times they are seen with others of their own species are during mating, or when a mother is rearing her cubs. She will usually only have one or two cubs at a time, and they are helpless at birth. They first leave the den around 2-4 months, but will live with mom for up to two years!

During their time with mom, young Snow Leopard learn to hunt. These cats can take down prey three times their size (like Ibex and Deer) but they also eat rodents, rabbits, and other small creatures as well.

Sadly, these cats are declining in number. Poaching is one of the threats, as they are killed for their skins and for their body parts which are used in traditional medicines. They are also losing their habitat, and it is estimated that there are only about 6,000 left in the wild. Luckily they can be bred in captivity, and there are an additional 600-700 in zoos worldwide. There are also several agencies working to promote the conservation of the species.



IUCN Status : Endangered
Location : Asia
Size : Body Length up to 50in (1.3m), Weight up to 120lbs
Classification : Phylum : Chordata -- Class : Mammalia -- Order : Carnivora
Family : Felidae -- Genus : Uncia -- Species : U. uncia
Image : Gunnar Ries

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