See Two Snow Leopards Battle In a Territorial Fight

Written by Sharon Parry
Updated: October 20, 2023
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Key Points

  • Initially, the confrontation begins with both snow leopards marking opposite sides of the same rock. This is a behavior wild cats engage in to claim territory.
  • Soon, the confrontation turns violent, with both leopards engaging each other over who this rock belongs to.
  • The fight ends without either leopard being seriously injured or killed.

This is an exceptionally rare and fascinating opportunity to observe an interaction between two snow leopards and examine their body language. Snow leopards are found in Asia and Eurasia where they live in mountainous habitats. They have a distinctive pale gray coat with gray spots and a lean and agile body. In terms of numbers, they are a vulnerable population and sightings are rare.

Check Out The Entire Video Below!

Snow Leopard Territorial Behavior and Scent Marking

At the start of this clip, the two snow leopards (the national animal of Pakistan) are some distance apart. Despite their excellent camouflage they have clearly spotted each other. One snow tiger starts to scrape the ground with their hind feet. This is part of their scent marking behavior which is associated with letting other leopards know that they are laying claim to a particular territory. Both sexes mark territory but male leopards do it more often than females. Scraping the ground is accompanied by urine spraying and/or by emptying anal sacs.

Without taking their eyes off each other, the snow leopards both move forward. This time they crouch down with the ends of their tails flicking slightly. You may have seen domestic cats do something similar when they are slightly cross about something.

Snow leopard rests against rocks, slightly camouflaged

Snow leopards have pale gray coats that help them blend in with their surroundings.

©Sagephotography.in/Shutterstock.com

Fighting for Dominance on a Rock

The scent marking behavior continues when the snow leopards are right next to each other. One of them rubs its cheek against the rock and this behavior is often associated with territory marking. Then, the other one does the same on the other side of the rock. There is clearly a dispute over exactly who this rock belongs to! Finally, the stalemate is broken and things get physical. Both animals use their paws to bat the other on the head. This species has large paws as they need them to act as snow shoes when they are walking on snow. You may also notice the very log tails – these are used for balance as they leap over cliffs.

Snow leopards are solitary animals by nature.

©Grindstone Media Group/Shutterstock.com

There is a brief tussle and one leopard falls off the rock. Before long the conflict is over and the dispute seems to be resolved.

Leopards are usually solitary animals and avoid confrontation with their own species. However, during aggressive encounters they have been seen growling, snarling, spitting and hissing.

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To stay safe, they run away from the buffalo except one lion! He gets left behind. A nearby tree is his best bet to avoid the buffalo. Watch this scared cat climb a tree!

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Abeselom Zerit/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Dr Sharon Parry is a writer at A-Z animals where her primary focus is on dogs, animal behavior, and research. Sharon holds a PhD from Leeds University, UK which she earned in 1998 and has been working as a science writer for the last 15 years. A resident of Wales, UK, Sharon loves taking care of her spaniel named Dexter and hiking around coastlines and mountains.

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