Other Free Encyclopedias » Animal Life Resource » Mammals » Cattle Antelopes Bison Buffaloes Goats and Sheep: Bovidae - Physical Characteristics, Behavior And Reproduction, Water Buffalo (bubalus Bubalis): Species Accounts, American Bison (bison Bison): Species Accounts - GEOGRAPHIC RANGE, HABITAT, DIET, BOVIDAE A

Cattle Antelopes Bison Buffaloes Goats and Sheep: Bovidae - Bighorn Sheep (ovis Canadensis): Species Accounts

june accessed males bighorns

Physical characteristics: The maximum weight in males is 300 pounds (137 kilograms), 200 pounds (91 kilograms) in females. They measure 49 to 77 inches (124 to 195 centimeters) long, with females being smaller. Males have huge horns curling round and forward. Females' horns are much smaller and curl just a little. Coats range from reddish brown to almost black-brown with white undersides, rump, muzzle, and back of legs. They have excellent eyesight. Bighorns vocalize during mating season and when in danger.

Geographic range: Bighorn sheep are found in western North America south to desert ranges of the southwest United States and Mexico.

Bighorn sheep do not defend territories, but they will fight over a female. (Bob and Clara Calhoun/Bruce Coleman Inc. Reproduced by permission.)

Habitat: Bighorns live in deserts, but prefer mountain meadows, rocky cliffs, and mountains. They prefer regions where annual snowfall does not exceed 60 inches (152 centimeters) because they aren't able to paw through snow with their cloven (split) hooves.

Diet: Bighorns eat grasses, herbs, and shrubs. Those that live in the desert eat desert plants.

Behavior and reproduction: Bighorns live in small hers of two to nine, with mature males staying separate from the herd. They migrate to higher elevations in the summer and to sheltered valleys during the cold months.

Though males won't defend territories, they will fight each other over a female. Bighorns jump from ledge to ledge with ease and are able to climb mountains at a rate of 15 miles per hour (24.1 kilometers per hour). On level ground, they move at a rate of 30 miles per hour (48.3 kilometers per hour). They are capable swimmers.

These polygamous bovids mate in the fall. Gestation lasts 150 to 180 days and results in the birth of one or two lambs. Offspring are protected by their mothers for several months. Females are ready to mate at thirty months, males between seven and eight years. Life span in the wild averages ten years, but can reach twenty. Coyotes and mountain lions are primary predators.

Bighorn sheep and people: Prized for its majestic horns, the bighorn is hunted as a trophy as well as for meat.

Conservation status: Though population numbers are lower than they were in the nineteenth century, they are stable, and the species is not considered threatened. ∎



Geist, Val. Buffalo Nation: History and Legend of the North American Bison. Stillwater, MN: Voyageur Press, 2002.

Lott, Dale F. American Bison: A Natural History. Berkely, CA: University of California Press, 2003.

Nowak, Ronald M. "Antelopes, Cattle, Bison, bBuffalo, Goats, and Sheep." Walker's Mammals of the World Online 5.1. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997. http://www.press.jhu.edu/books/walkers_mammals_of_the_world/artiodactyla/artiodactyla.bovidae.html (accessed on June 7, 2004).

Robbins, Ken. Thunder on the Plains: The Story of the American Buffalo. New York: Atheneum, 2001.


Mills, James Edward. "Wisconsin Bison are Plentiful and Popular." Wisconsin State Journal (June 5, 2004).

Web sites:

"American Bison." NatureWorks. http://www.nhptv.org/natureworks/americanbison.htm (accessed on June 7, 2004).

"Bighorn Sheep." Desert USA. http://www.desertusa.com/big.html (accessed on June 7, 2004).

"Black Wildebeest." Singapore Zoological Gardens-Docent. (accessed on June 7, 2004).

Fox, D., and P. Myers "Bovidae." Animal Diversity Web. http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Bovidae.html (accessed on June 7, 2004).

"Wildlives: African Animals: Dikdiks." African Wildlife Foundation. http://www.awf.org/wildlives/67 (accessed on June 7, 2004).

"Wildlives: African Animals: Thomson's Gazelle." African Wildlife Foundation. http://www.awf.org/wildlives/156 (accessed on June 7, 2004).

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