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Impurest's Guide to Animals #15 - Snow Leopard

Wow it’s Issue #15 of Impurest Cheese’s Guide to Animals and this week we leave the scheduled programming for the first (of four) requests. Last week the cuddly caterpillar of the Isabella Tiger Moth showed why it is so huggable. This week’s animal was requested by @cbishop and is a noble and sadly endangered creature. Hope you guys enjoy.

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Issue #15 – Snow Leopard

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[1]

Kingdom – Animalia

Phylum – Cordata

Class – Mamalia

Order – Carnivoria

Family – Felidae

Genus – Panthera

Species – uncia

Related Species - The Snow Leopard is one of five ‘true’ big cats with the others consisting of the following; Lion (Panthera leo), Jaguar (Panthera onca), Tiger (Panthera tigris) and Leopard (Panthera paradus) (1)

Range

Through all but it's most northern part of it's range the Snow Leopard is only found at altitudes of 1500m or more [2]
Through all but it's most northern part of it's range the Snow Leopard is only found at altitudes of 1500m or more [2]

The Ghost Cat

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Snow Leopards are the smallest of the five ‘true big cats’ reaching an average weight of 55kg although healthy adult individuals have been found with a mass of under 25kg. The Snow Leopard reaches about 2m in length, with just under half that length comprising of tail, and supports a familiar grey coat with black rosettes as well as a pale yellow belly. Despite being a true big cat and possessing the hyoid bone that’s required for roaring, the Snow Leopard is incapable of making the classic ‘big cat roar’ and vocalises through wailing, hissing and meowing.

Within their range Snow Leopards are the apex predator with only a few large species such as the Himalayan Yak (Bos grunniens) unable to be taken down. In pursuit of prey a Snow Leopard can cover gaps and chasms up to nine meters (six times their body length) wide in a single bound. In addition to their carnivorous diet Snow Leopards will take plant matter, more so than any other cat species, although the reason for this addition to its diet is unknown (2). While known to take domestic livestock the Snow Leopard generally avoids humans and as of yet there have been no recorded deaths of humans from this species.

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Despite their timid relationship with humanity Snow Leopards are still seen in some parts of their range as pest species and the ICUN Red List as Endangered. The majority of the threats come from poaching, retribution killings over suspected livestock slaying and poor policing of conservation across much of the Snow Leopard’s range (3).

Five Fun Snow Leopard Facts

The Snow Leopard is the National Heritage Animal of Pakistan

Snow Leopards are unique among cats due to a large percentage of their population possessing green/grey eyes

Despite being called a leopard the Snow Leopard’s closest modern relative is the Tiger. Genetic tests show that the two cats evolved from a separate linage from the other three and split off as recently as 2 million years ago (4).

When sleeping the Snow Leopard will position its tail over its face to act as a scarf to keep snow and ice out of its eyes

Baby Snow Leopards are born in mountainside dens lined with their mother’s fur, shed over the summer from her belly. The young are born blind, opening their eyes when just seven days old, and will stay with their mothers for up to 22 months before being chased away to avoid inbreeding

Bibliography

(1) - www.arkive.org

(2) - Sunquist, Mel; Sunquist, Fiona (2002). Wild cats of the World. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. pp. 377–394. ISBN 0-226-77999-8.

(3) - http://www.iucnredlist.org/details/22732/0

(4) - Janecka, J. E., Jackson, R., Zhang, Y., Diqiang Li, Munkhtsog, B., Buckley-Beason, V. and Murphy, W. J. 2008. Population Monitoring of Snow Leopards Using Non Invasive Genetics. Cat News 48: 7–10.

Picture References

[1] - http://animalstime.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Endangered-Snow-leopard-Snow-leopards-facts.jpg

[2] - http://b.static.trunity.net/images/193325/824x556/scale/snow-leopard-range.jpg

[3] - http://assets.panda.org/img/original/snow_leopard_wwfwallpaper.jpg

[4] - http://www.gotpetsonline.com/pictures-gallery/exotic-pictures-breeders-babies/snow-leopard-pictures-breeders-babies/pictures/snow-leopard-0007.jpg

Hope you guys enjoyed this noble predator. Next week’s animal has been chosen by @ostyo with the requests of @laflux and @OverLordArhas scheduled for the fortnight afterwards. If you missed an animal or simply want to revisit a species make sure to check out the Bestiary of Past Issues. Many Thanks for Reading

Impurest Cheese

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