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Mountain goat

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Mountain goat
MountaingoatatMountRushmore.jpg
Scientific Classification
Binomial Name

Oreamnos americanus

Oreamnos americanus, know as the Mountain Goat, or Rocky Mountain Goat, is also referred to as the king of the hill because they are very well adapted to their life on the steep hills and mountains. With their large fur coat they are well protected from harsh conditions, and the high mountains keep them safe from most predators. Mountain goats live only in North America. [1] In the wild most mountain goats will live for 12-15 years, and 16-20 in captivity. [2]

Contents

Anatomy

All mountain goats have short tails, beards, and long dark horns. These horns are usually around 15-28 cm in length and have rings showing their yearly growth. Their feet are well suited for climbing up steep or rocky slopes, which can sometimes be as steep as 60 degrees or more. Mountain goat feet have inner pads, which supply traction and have cloven hooves that are able to spread apart when needed. On the back of their feet are dewclaws to help keep them from falling or slipping when climbing. Mountain goats are kept warm by their white, woolly, two layer coats. They have one layer of shorter, fine, dense wool that is covered by an outer layer of long, hollow hairs. During warmer times, like summer, mountain goats start to molt by rubbing against rocks or trees. The adult males, called billies, shed their extra wool first and the pregnant females, or nannies, shedding last. During the winter, their double layer coats help them survive temperatures reaching as low as -46 Celsius (-50 Fahrenheit) and winds as high as 100 mph (161 km/h). A billy is about 1 meter (3'3") tall at the shoulder, and usually weighs around 90 kg (200 lb.). The billy has a longer beard and longer horns than the nanny. Adult male mountain goats generally weigh somewhere between 45 and 100 kg, while the females regularly weigh 10-30% less. [3]

Reproduction

Sexual maturity for mountain goats is usually around thirty months. Nannies will undergo corresponding estrus near late October all through December, while the males and females partake in their mating custom. Mature billies stare at nannies for extended periods of time, dig rutting pits, and fight other billies in flashy fights. Males and females alike will usually mate with several different mates during breeding season. Some billies will try to protect their nannies from other males. After breeding season has ended, the males and females will move away from each other. The adult billies break up into small groups of only two or three individuals. The nannies will make nursery groups of no more than 50. Nannies usually give birth to one single offspring during the spring after a six-month gestation period. After moving to a remote ridge, they lick the baby clean and consume the placenta. Kids usually weigh little over 7 lb at their birth and will start running and climbing in only a few hours. Kids will follow their mothers closely for their first year of life, even though they are typically weaned in one month or so. [4]

Ecology

Mountain goats are very dependent on a steep environment. They use the relative safety of a cliff to protect themselves from predators. The main threat from predators for the mountain goat comes from above. The large Golden Eagle can knock kids off ledges and get them killed. Other than that mountain goats have little predators. During summer, they nibble on the fresh foliage of alpine meadows constantly watchful of grizzly bears. This time of year they will shed their dense coats, which detach in ragged clumps that gives them a messy look. [5]

Habitat

Mountain goats are only found in North America. They live around the Rocky Mountains. They also live in the Coast Mountain regions of North America, from Montana, Idaho, and northern Washington, through Alberta and British Columbia, all the way into the southern Yukon and some in southwestern Alaska. Relocated populations are sometimes also found in areas as such Utah, Wyoming, Nevada, Oregon, South Dakota, Colorado, and Washington’s Olympic Peninsula. These habitats can reach elevations of around 3,000 meters or more. Mountain goats are one of the largest animals found in those high-altitude habitats. [6]

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