An innocuous question but an important one as the snow leopard needs large ‘snowshoe’ style paws to successfully navigate over, sometimes, deep snow. These cats really do live in some pretty hostile environments. But they are at home on these steep, snowy slopes and massive rock faces. They truly are amazing cats and so beautiful with their enigmatic faces.
They do have large paws. We are fortunate to have a nice comparison from the Snow Leopard Trust of a paw print next to a male human hand:
Some other physical features of this much-admired wild cat species are:
- Height: 22-26 inches (55-65 cms). Comparison: the tallest to the shoulder domestic cat is an F2 Savannah, Fenrir, in the US at 18.83 inches (47.83 cms). That puts the snow leopard into context. This is not a huge wild cat. The average domestic cat is probably around 15 inches to the shoulder. The snow leopard is the 7th largest cat. Even the cheetah is bigger.
- Although the snow leopard does hold some records! They have the longest tail of all cats (and the thickest) at around 40 inches long (100 cms).
- Their tail is a similar length to their body and head which varies between 36 to 44 inches (90-115 cms) according to the Snow Leopard Trust. It needs to be long to assist in keeping balance. Of all the wild cats, the snow leopard depends on their tail the most to keep balance to help protect them from falls. That’s why it is the most impressive and longest tail of all the cats.
- Their ears are small and round. The small size reduces heat loss. Ear flaps have blood vessels near the surface where body heat can be lost.
- Wide, short nasal cavity to warm up the cold air before it enters the lungs. The nasal cavity is in fact large. The reason? It is believed that it assists the cat to breathe at high altitude where oxygen is depleted and the air very cold.
- Strong limbs: the forelimbs being shorter than the hind limbs which is typical feline anatomy which allows this cat to launch themselves up to 30 feet in a single bound.
- The fur is soft and dense to keep them warm. It grows longer in winter.
- The haunted eyes are hooded and pale green, forever gazing into the distance.
For comparison, below is a life-sized tiger paw image described by me as “a life-sized male tiger paw print – at just under 14 centimetres across – top to bottom in the picture.” As to the length of a tiger paw, I said this years ago: “15.5cm for Siberian tiger but be careful with this info. I can’t verify it”.
Below are some more articles on the snow leopard.
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