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Snow Leopard vs Mountain Lion

snow leopard vs mountain lion

Snow leopards are tricky animals to track down, earning them the nickname the “ghost of the mountains”. The mountain lion has many names, including puma, cougar, catamount and panther. These two animals are powerful predators, but who would win in a snow leopard vs mountain lion fight? Read on to find out!

Size and Appearance

snow leopard in zoo

An adult male snow leopard weighs 27 – 54 kg (60 – 120 lbs) with an average shoulder height of 61 cm (24 in). They have a body length of 1 – 1.3 m (3.2 – 4.2 ft), with their tail measuring between 79 – 99 cm (31 – 39 in).

Snow leopards have thick, soft fur that keeps them warm in their harsh environment. Their fur can be 5 cm (2 in) long on their sides and back, with it being the thickest on their stomach at 12 cm (4.7 in).

Each snow leopard has a unique fur pattern of black spots on their face and neck, with large rosettes across the rest of their body. Their tail is thick and bushy, which they wrap around their body like a blanket when they are cold.

Adult male mountain lions weigh between 34 – 74 kg (75 – 175 lbs). The largest ever recorded weighed a vast 175 kg (276 lbs). They have a body length of 1.7 – 1.8 m (5.5 – 6 ft) with a tail length of 0.8 to 0.9 m (2.5 – 3 ft), with a shoulder height of 76 cm (30 in).

They have coarse, short hair and a thin tail compared to snow leopards. Mountain lions are a sandy brown colour with a pale underneath.

Movement Speed

mountain lion climbing tree

The snow leopard is a highly agile cat that needs to be to get around its rugged terrain. Its large paws act as snow shoes giving it grip in the snow and ice. They can leap 9 m (30 ft) in a single bound using their powerful back legs. They can approach 55 mph (88 km/h) when chasing prey using their tail for balance.

A mountain lion can reach speeds of 40 – 50 mph (64 – 88 km/h) for short distances when pursuing prey. They are less powerful jumpers than the snow leopard but can still easily manage an impressive jump of 5.5 m (18 ft).

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Attack Power

snow leopard yawning

Both animals’ primary weapons are their teeth and claws. The mountain lion has the largest canine teeth at 5 cm (2 in). In comparison, the snow leopard has canine teeth that measure 2.9 cm (1.1 in) long. Their teeth are also quite slim when compared to other big cats. Both cats have a similar bite force of 400 psi.

Both animals have retractable claws that they use to pin down their prey. They are the same size as their canine teeth. They hunt by stalking their prey until they are close enough to launch a fast sprint to pounce on their prey. They kill their victim by pinning the animal down and biting the throat, which suffocates the animal.

The snow leopard’s diet comprises blue sheep, argali and Asiatic ibex. When prey is hard to come by, they will be opportunistic and prey on livestock like goats, sheep, horses and young yaks. This brings them into conflict with farmers, that may retaliate by killing them.
Mountain lions mainly eat deer but will catch prey as small as mice. In populated areas, they will occasionally go after livestock and pets.


snow leopard sitting

Snow leopards live in the mountains of Central Asia across 12 countries. Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Mountain lions cover a vast range from North America, where they are found in the western states. Throughout central America, down through South America all the way to Argentina. They live in various habitats, from deserts, forests, plains, suburbs and wetlands. Both animals live in solitary, only coming together to mate.

Snow Leopard vs Mountain Lion Who Wins in a Fight?

mountain lion jumping over pond

The mountain lion would win in a snow leopard vs mountain lion fight. The mountain lion has the size advantage over the snow leopard and has bigger canine teeth. Mountain lions also have more experience fighting other animals as they must contend with wolves and bears for food.

Related Article Mountain Lion vs Wolf Who Will Win in a Fight?