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What are some facts about snow leopards?

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The snow leopard is an elusive wildcat that roams the mountains of central Asia. It grows to be 6- to 7 1/2-feet-long, including the tail, 2-feet-high at the shoulders and up to 120 pounds in weight. As of 2015, conservationists list the creature as endangered.

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Snow leopards adapt themselves to their snowy environment by means of a white coat and dark markings. This coloring effectively helps the creature to blend in to its surroundings and hide from its prey. Like other wildcats, the snow leopard is a carnivore, eating hares, rodents, wild sheep and mountain goats. The wide paws of the cat and its balancing abilities allow it to compete with its favorite prey in chases along steep ridges and across snowy valleys. Snow leopards are also able to jump distances six times their own body length.

Snow leopards usually live alone, except during the mating season. Female snow leopards give birth to two or three cubs at a time. The young are born blind in a fur-lined den prepared by the mother.

As of 2015, the snow leopard population is somewhere between 3000 and 7000. Poaching for the animal's fur and other body parts, in addition to killings by farmers, has greatly reduced the snow leopard population.

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