Doesn't help that snow leopards tend to live at high altitudes, usually 3000+ metres above sea level and favour mountain ranges in Pakistan, Nepal, Bhutan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Afghanistan, the Kyrgyz Republic, China, Mongolia and Russia. Snow leopards are territorial, but territories can overlap as they are not particularly aggressive at defending territories.
They are pefect hunters for their preferred prey of wild sheep and goats. They have also been know to hunt wild pigs, tahrs, Bactrian camels, gazelles, ibex and even marmots, with birds and hares if other prey is scarce. The rocky mountainsides and outcrops provide cover and the snow leopard's fur with its grey or black rosettes against a base colour of pale grey or a smoky yellow, gives it excellent camouflage. Their wide paws help them stalk and give chase over snow. Their long tails, almost the same lenght as their bodies, help them balance. Snow leopards wrap their tails around their body when they sleep to help keep them warm.
Each snow leopard has a unique pattern of rosettes on their fur. Their stocky bodies and small round ears help minimise heat loss.
The snow leopard mating season is usually between January and mid-March with cubs being born in June or July. Litters are usually two to three cubs and the cubs will eat their first solid food at around two months. Cubs will stay with their mother for nearly two years before leaving to find their own territories. Siblings will sometimes stay together to start with but will separate.
Snow leopards are sadly endangered. It's estimated there are around 3500 - 7000 in the wild. As with most big cats, the biggest threats are the illegal fur trade and loss of habitat/prey. It takes six to twelve snow leopard skins to make a coat and body parts, including bones, are sometimes used in traditional Asian medicine. Loss of prey is down to a combination of people encroaching on traditional snow leopard territories and over-grazing by domestic herds which leaves less food for wild grazing animals so numbers become restricted. This leaves the snow leopard with little choice but to take domestic animals so herdsmen kill snow leopards in retribution.
Although all of the countries that have snow leopards have cat protection laws, the laws are not rigorously upheld and illegal poachers often find the weaknesses in local law enforcement.
Snow leopards generally live for up to 10 years in the wild.