- Genus/Species: Oreamnos americanus
- Conservation Status: Not Threatened.
- Location: North America
Mountain goats are found in the high mountain ranges of North America and prefer steep, rocky areas with cliffs or bluffs. They live in places where there is a lot of snowfall and have long warm coats for protection from the cold. The dazzling white of their coats makes it difficult for their enemies to spot them against the snow. They also have a little tuft of fur under their chins. Mountain goats are excellent climbers. They can climb almost 1,500 vertical feet in just 20 minutes! Their hooves have hard outer shells and a rubbery, slightly hollow set of footpads that give them a good grip as they climb up and down. These footpads also help cushion their feet when they jump from rock to rock. Mountain goats have very good eyesight and can see movement up to a mile away. They also have a keen sense of smell and can detect enemies long before there is any danger. Even if they don't smell danger, their excellent hearing will warn them of enemies coming.
Mountain goats are about 48 inches from shoulders to hooves- which is about the height of an average 9 year old kid. Some can weigh up to 250 pounds – which is more than the weight of four 9-year old kids together! Mountain Goats eat almost all the plants that they see in the high mountains. Most of their food consists of grasses, sedges, and rushes. They also love salt and often snack on a special type of clay found high in the mountains. They are herbivorous ruminants, or cud chewing animals. This means that they first gulp down their food and store it for later when they can relax, bring it up once more, and chew the food slowly. Because the number of mountain goats has been relatively stable, they are not in any danger of extinction.
Did You Know?
- Mountain goats shed their heavy coats in summer.
- You can tell how good a mountain goat’s diet is by the size of the rings on its horns. Narrow growth rings mean a poor diet.
- If you count the rings on a mountain goat’s horns, you can tell the number of winters the goat has lived.
- During courtship male mountain goats often crawl to females on their bellies.