Snow Leopard Facts

Known throughout the world for its beautiful fur and elusive behavior, the endangered snow leopard (Panthera uncia) is found in the rugged mountains of Central Asia.

Snow leopards are perfectly adapted to the cold, barren landscape of their high-altitude home, but human threats have created an uncertain future for the cats. Despite a range of over 2 million km2, scientist estimate that there may only be between 3,920 and 6,390 snow leopards left in the wild.

Snow Leopard Biology
  • Solo traveller: the snow leopard is usually solitary and highly elusive
  • Crepuscular: dawn and dusk are the cat’s most active times
  • Living large: some snow leopards have home ranges of up to 1,000 square kilometers
  • Single moms: for about 18 months, females raise their cubs – all alone
  • Cold and dry: the snow leopard primarily lives in arid, barren mountain areas
  • Gentle: snow leopards are not known to be aggressive toward humans
  • Carnivorous: the cat’s main prey are ibex, argali and blue sheep
China-Web-Cat-2015
A snow leopard on the prowl in China. Photo: Shan Shui Conservation Center / Peking University / Panthera / Snow Leopard Trust
Scientific name and origin
  • Panthera uncia (previously: Uncia uncia)
  • The genus name, Uncia, is derived from the Old French word once, which was originally used for the European lynx. The snow leopard is still occasionally called ounce.
  • In its native lands, the snow leopard is known under many names, including as “wāwrīn pṛāng” (Pashto: واورين پړانګ‎), “shan” (Ladakhi), “zigsa” (Tibetan), “irves” (Mongolian: ирвэс), “bars” or “barys” (Kazakh: барыс [ˈbɑrəs]), “ilbirs” (Kyrgyz: Илбирс), “barfānī chītā” (Hindi, Urdu: برفانی چیتا) and “him tendua” (Sanskrit, Hindi: हिम तेन्दुआ).
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