Sunday, November 25, 2007

Snow Leopard

These beautiful gray leopards live in the mountains of Central Asia. They are insulated by thick hair, and their wide, fur-covered feet act as natural snowshoes. These cats have powerful legs and are tremendous leapers, able to jump as far as 50 feet (15 meters). Snow leopards use their long tails for balance and as blankets to cover sensitive body parts against the severe mountain chill. Snow leopards prey upon the blue sheep (bharal) of Tibet and the Himalayas, and mountain ibex found over most of the rest of their range. Though these powerful predators can kill animals three times their weight, they also eat smaller fare, such as marmots, hares, and game birds. Their scientific name is Panthera uncia.

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