7 fascinating facts about snow leopards

A remote camera capturing a snow leopard in India. © National Geographic Stock / Steve Winter / WWF

Snow leopards are one of the most majestic and elusive big cats in the world. Found in the high mountains of Asia, they are built for the cold and spend their lives crossing thousands of kilometres to feed and breed. Because they live in such remote areas, we’re still learning about their behaviour, but we do know some amazing facts about them, such as:

Snow leopard with cub. © David Lawson / WWF-UK
  1. Snow leopards are the only big cats that call the cold deserts of Asia home. These deserts are also known as the third pole because they contain ice fields with the largest reserves of freshwater outside the northern and southern polar regions.
  2. They are often called the “ghosts of the mountain” because they are so rarely seen and spend most of their lives in solitude.
  3. The fur on their stomachs is nearly five inches thick to help them survive in cold, harsh mountain climates.
  4. Believe it or not, snow leopards can’t roar. Instead, they growl, yowl, mew and prusten (also called chuffing, a non-threatening vocalization made by blowing air through their nose).
  5. A WWF study recorded snow leopards living at the highest altitude ever documented for big cats — 5,859 metres above sea level — about the same height as Canada’s highest mountain.
  6. Their thick, massive tails, which shield them from the harsh weather and help maintain balance, are almost as long as their entire body.
  7. They can prey on animals up to three times their own body weight.

We also know that as few as 4,000 snow leopards remain in the wild. Poaching, habitat loss and retaliatory killings due to loss of livestock are threatening their survival. Fortunately, you can help WWF-Canada protect them. We are working with communities in Nepal to develop strategies that will reduce threats to snow leopards. Help us do more to protect snow leopards


Snow leopard in mountains. © naturepl.com / Reinhard / ARCO / WWF
Snow leopard in mountains. © naturepl.com / Reinhard / ARCO / WWF