SNOW LEOPARDS Panthera uncia. By Anna Tran. Sexual dimorphism (how are the males and females different?). - PowerPoint PPT Presentation
SNOW LEOPARDSPanthera uncia By Anna Tran
Sexual dimorphism (how are the males and females different?) There are not many noticeable physical differences between male and female snow leopards. The large males can weigh up to around 75 kilograms whereas the very small females weigh only around 25 kilograms. A male snow leopards head is usually much squarer and wider than that of a female snow leopard. Male snow leopards are generally about 30% larger than females, but otherwise the two sexes look pretty much alike and can be difficult to tell apart.
courtshipThere is little known about snow leopard courtship because they are hardly sighted and endangered. Female snow leopards Estrus (when snow leopards are in heat) lasts 2-12 days. If it does not mate, it will be heat again in around 60days. Snow leopards have long lasting pair bonds the usually follow a long courtship period. The snow leopards are usually solitary so they communicate with each other from a distance. They mark their territory in a variety of ways, scraping the ground with their hind legs, leaving a small dip with a mound besides it, use faeces(feces) as markers, and also spray urine against over hanging rocks at nose level so that other female cants can smell their markings. The markings better help the snow leopards to locating mates during breeding season. The male snow leopard would usually stay around for a while and leave when the cubs are born to the mother leopard. This is the period of intensified marking and vocalization.
Mating and fertilizationLike any other big cats a snow leopards method of mating can seem although they are fighting. Once a male mounts onto a female (this is called copulation) the male inserts the spiny penis and upon withdrawal it rakes the females vagina which stimulates ovulation. This can be painful for the female. Copulation may only last for a few seconds. During this the male snow leopard bites on the females neck or ears to stimulate her. Here is a video portraying snow leopards mating.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BGcSGax3PzM
Gestation, parental care and weaning.The snow leopards mating season is usually between June to July. Cubs are usually born in late spring or early summer because the weather is a lot warmer and increases the chances of the cubs survival. A snow leopards gestation period is about 93-110 days.One to five cubs are born after a 100 day pregnancy. Weaning takes place till around three months, and so they become highly dependent of their mothers care. At about 2 months, cubs can eat their first solid food hunted by the mother snow leopard. By 3 months they follow their mother around, learning how to hunt and other snow leopard behaviors. The cubs stay with their mothers until they are 18 months old and then they are set to leave the den and into the real world. it takes over a year until the cubs can fend for themselves so during that time they learn from their mother. Sibling snow leopards usually stick together for some time after leaving their mother. The cubs become sexually mature at the age of 2-3 years.
Lifecycle of the organismThe snow leopards will only mate during January and mid march because those seasons are more suitable for rearing cubs. The snow leopards are very solitary animals and only come together during mating season. After the snow leopards have engaged copulation and have successfully fertilized the female the male will leave the den and are not involved in the cub bringing up. The gestation for the snow leopards last up to 93-110 days and the cubs are then born in June or July. The female would usually only produce 2-3 cubs due to their habitat and the environmental factors. Like any other big cats snow leopards retreat to a secluded area where they will give birth to their young. New born cubs are born blind and defenceless which makes them dependant on their mother. Their mother nurtures and weans (breastfeeds) them until they are the age of 2 months. When they reach the age of 3 months their mother will begin to teach them the tactics of survival which includes hunting and other snow leopard behaviour. Cubs will leave their mothers when they reach the around the age of 2 yr. female snow leopards reach sexual maturity earlier than the male snow leopards. Females will begin to mate at the age of 2-3 and males on the other hand will become sexually mature at the age of 4. snow leopards would generally live up to 21 years however due to environmental factors their average lifespan in the wild would only be around 10-13 years.
Snow leopards dietThe snow leopards diet is very fascinating, they depend mostly on meat for their daily nutrients. Snow leopards like to consume their foods slowly, it takes them usually 3 to 4 days to finish consuming a sheep or goat. This is a clever tactic used by the snow leopard to lure unexpecting prey such as scavengers vultures and ravens to the carcass to the snow leopard. Snow leopards usually kill up to two large animals a month. They mostly eat smaller animals such as marmots, pikas, hares, other small rodents, and game birds like the Tibetan snowcock and chukor partridge. Rarely snow leopards will eat plant material, they do this usually around the mating season to obtain particular nutrients. Snow leopards may sometimes invade livestock because of farmers encroaching on their land. Snow leopards would actually eat what ever they can catch but those were the main foods they eat.
Snow leopard factsKingdom: AnimaliaPhylum: ChordataClass: MammaliaOrder: CarnivoraFamily: FelidaeGenus: UnciaSpecies: unciaSnow leopards in fact actually have no relation to the leopard. Some people believe that there is a closer connection with the cheetah because they both have similar physical traits.Snow leopards in incapable of roaring because of the absence of the larynx. They can make that screaming sound like a cougar but not the deep roar like a lion.Snow leopards are an endangered species and there are only around 4000-7500 left in the wild and 370 are in captivity.Description: the snow leopard has a grey thick coat, it is white on the belly. The head and limbs of the snow leopard are marked with black or brown spots. The body is covered with brown blotches ringed with black and a black streak runs down the back. The tale is very thick and busy and the bottom of the paws are covered with fur for protection against the cold snow. In winter the snow leopards coat becomes lighter.