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The mountain wild goat lives in the highlands and feeds on whatever it can find in the mountains. Domestic goats that graze in our meadows also belong to this genus. Domesticated animals inherited only the exterior from their ancestors. Wild goats are much smarter than rams and sheep. They are able to survive where predators cannot reach them. Wild animals have very large horns compared to domestic animals. In addition, their appearance is more brutal, and the females have a small udder.
Mountain goats are familiar even from pictures of artiodactyl mammals from the bovid family. They live, as the name implies, mainly in the mountains of Eurasia and Africa. These are the oldest representatives of the fauna of the northern hemisphere.
Mountain goats are distant relatives of mountain sheep, bighorn goats, chamois and even gorals. They can live at an altitude of 5 thousand meters above sea level. There are about ten types of these graceful animals. They are united in one genus by common morphological characteristics and love for high-mountainous regions. The habitats of various species of wild goats rarely overlap with each other. They chose this unusual habitat to escape from predators.
Animals are hardy, agile, undemanding to food, able to survive on scarce vegetation. They feed on grass, shrub branches and tree bark, mosses and lichens. These ruminants love salt and are ready to climb the steepest cliffs for it, which often surprises tourists and photographers.
They owe their climbing abilities to a compact body structure, strong legs, narrow, tenacious and forked hard hooves with a soft padded sole that can stick to the surface of any stone. Mountain goats have excellent coordination and a developed sense of balance. These animals, like butterflies, jump and flutter over the mountains, and if they cannot stay on one ledge, they rapidly jump to another. They have very strong trained leg muscles, and they start jumping on rocks from infancy.
What does a mountain goat look like
A distinctive feature of these animals is the amazing beauty of the horns, which grow throughout life and reach a length of more than one meter (in males). They are hollow on the inside and have transverse thickenings on the outside. The horns can be arched, bent back or to the sides, twisted into a spiral or screw. The goats never throw this attribute off their heads. Females also have horns, but short and similar to daggers.
I mountain goats, as a rule, have a medium-sized dense body, a strong neck, a small head with a convex forehead, strong, medium-length limbs. The height at the withers is 50-95 cm, and the length of the body is 1.2-1.8 m. The ears are erect, the tail is short. The goats have a beard on their chin. The body of animals is covered with short, thick and coarse brownish, sandy, gray or yellowish hair. Goats have excellent sense of smell and vision (300-degree view), well-developed brain.
These animals have been familiar to people for many millennia. The mountain bezoar goat is the ancestor of the domestic goat, the very one that is bred for milk, meat and wool. These animals were sacrificed earlier, myths and legends were composed about them. The mythical goat Amalthea, according to the beliefs of the Greeks, even fed the baby Zeus with her milk.
Domestic goats are milked after the first lambing. Wild animals are not milked. All milk is fed to the young. Females have udders with two teats. Wild goats weigh about 45-90 kg. Males are larger, their body weight is 50-125 kilograms. Females give birth to kids weighing 3-4 kg.
Varieties of the breed
Mountain goats are divided into three groups. The classification is based on the structure of the horns. In total, there are 8-10 species of these beautiful animals. Groups of mountain goats:
- Capricorns. Representatives (goats): Pyrenean, Nubian, Siberian, Ethiopian and Alpine (ibex). These are animals with wide (at the head) and gradually tapering large arched horns. Length - up to one meter (males). Numerous transverse ridges are visible on the upper surface. The horns are bent back and slightly diverge to the sides. Animals of this group live in mountainous, steppe and hilly areas.
- Tours. Representatives: West Caucasian, East Caucasian, Severtsova. In aurochs, long horns grow back or to the sides. They have an arcuate or semi-helical shape. The surface of the horns is slightly ribbed. Tours live mainly in mountainous areas (in the Caucasus).
- Goats. Representatives: the horned goat, the domestic goat (over 300 breeds). Unlike domestic animals, wild goats live in Asia, in the highlands. They have long, twisted, corkscrew-like horns. In females of horned animals, the horns are also twisted, but small.
Mountain goats live, as a rule, in mountainous areas. Representatives of this genus of fauna avoid flat and flat areas. They enjoy jumping on mountain slopes, rocks and cliffs. These herd animals do not leave their homes even in winter. In the summer they just climb the mountains as high as possible, and in the winter they have to go down to the foothills. Males and females live separately from each other, in small groups. The goats join the goats only during the mating period. The kids live with their mothers for up to a year. In winter, herds of animals grow larger. In spring, goats disperse in groups of 6-7 individuals.
What do they eat?
Mountain goats feed on everything they find in the mountains: grasses, shrub branches, mosses, lichens. They taste everything they see and then decide whether to eat it or not. Wild animals eat bark, leaves, fruits. If desired, they can climb a tree. They are very fond of salt, for the sake of which they even climb the walls of a concrete dam. Animals graze early in the morning or late in the evening. At lunchtime, they rest or hide in the shade from the sultry sun. In places where predators can trap them, they go out to pasture only at night, and during the day they hide in rocks.
Features of behavior
Mountain goats spend most of their lives in the same area in their native herd. From childhood, they get used to the mountains and to moving around mountainous and steep terrain. Animals jump over cliffs with ease, perfectly balance on a vertical surface. They try to stay away from people and predators.
Zarechny Maxim Valerievich
Agronomist with 12 years of experience. Our best summer cottage expert.
True, because of their curiosity, it happens that they observe from afar, for example, tourists and skiers.
Mountain goats run fast, jump high, can climb any steep rock, jump over an abyss. They are very careful, intelligent and observant, and in case of danger they show courage. The herd usually has a guard goat that watches over the area. He warns his relatives about the danger that has arisen by bleating; if necessary, the animals enter into battle with the enemy. True, most often wild goats quickly run away and hide in hard-to-reach rocks. Only males fight among themselves, and then during the mating season.
Dangers and enemies
Mountain goats live all their life in hard-to-reach mountain places, fleeing predators. They are hunted by bears and wolves, lynxes and leopards, panthers, tigers, leopards. Little kids can become prey for golden eagles, eagles, kites, hawks. The danger lies in wait for these wild mountain animals everywhere. In winter, they die due to avalanches, hard frost and cold winds. In summer, humans hunt animals. True, many rare species (alpine, horned, Severtsov) are protected by law, that is, hunting them is prohibited.
Reproduction and offspring
At the end of autumn, mountain goats begin their mating period. Males find females and arrange fierce battles among themselves. True, mating fights are always conducted in compliance with certain rules. The males strike only with their horns (upper surface), they do not butt their foreheads like wild rams. Often during battles, their beautiful headdresses suffer.
Males never hit unprotected parts of the body with their horns and drive away the enemy only a short distance. The winner of the bout gets the whole herd of females. During the mating season, males exude a pungent odor, become more aggressive than usual.
Pregnancy in goats lasts 5-6 months. In the spring, they give birth to 1-4 cubs. Goats from the first minutes of life can stand on their legs and know how to suck milk from the udder. Cubs are very playful and mobile, they jump and frolic a lot. The young live with their mother for about a year, and then the females remain, and the young males form their herd. Adult goats jump on steep cliffs in splendid isolation. Animals live, on average, 10-20 years.