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Habitat and EcologyHabitat and Ecology
The cat’s principal natural prey species are bharal or blue sheep (Pseudois nayaur) and ibex (Capra sibirica) whose distribution coincides closely with snow leopard range. Snow leopards also prey on marmot (Marmota spp), pika (Ochotona spp.), hares (Lepus spp.), small rodents, and game birds. Considerable predation is reported on domestic livestock. Annual prey requirements are estimated at 20 to 30 adult blue sheep, with radio-tracking data indicating such a kill every 10 to 15 days. A solitary leopard may remain on a kill for up to a week (Jackson et al. in press)
Snow Leopard home ranges overlap widely between the sexes, and are reported to vary from 10 to 40 km² in relatively productive habitat in Nepal (Jackson and Ahlborn 1989). By comparison, home ranges are considerably larger (140 km² or greater) in Mongolia, where terrain is relatively open and ungulate prey densities lower (McCarthy et al. 2005). Densities range from 0.1 to 10 or more individuals per 100 km² (Jackson et al. in press).