The Mountain Goat
also known as the Rocky Mountain Goat
is a large wild goat found only in North America. They are a sure-footed climber commonly seen on cliffs and ice in
sub-alpine to alpine regions.
Both male and female mountain goats have beards, short tails, and long black
horns which contain yearly growth rings. They are protected from the elements
by their woolly white double coats. The fine, dense wool of their undercoats is
covered by an outer layer of longer, hollow hairs. Mountain goats molt in
spring by rubbing against rocks and trees. Their coats help them to withstand
winter temperatures as low as -50 F (-46 C) and winds of up to
100 mph (160 km/h).
A male (Billy) stands about 1m
(3.3 ft) at the shoulder to the waist and can weigh considerably more than
the female (nanny) (around 30% more in some cases). Male goats also have longer
horns and longer beards than females. Mountain goats can weigh between 45 and
140 kg (99 and 309 lb), though even males will often weigh less than 82 kg
(181 lb). The head-and-body length can range from 120–179 cm (47–70 in), with a
small tail adding 10–20 cm (3.9–7.9 in).
The mountain goat's feet are
well-suited for climbing steep, rocky slopes with pitches exceeding 60°, with
inner pads that provide traction and cloven hooves that can
spread apart. The tips of their feet have sharp dew claws that keep them from slipping.
Mountain Goats inhabit the Rocky Mountains and Cascade Range and other mountain regions of the Western North America, from Washington,Idaho and Montana through British
Columbia and Alberta, into the
southern Yukon and southeastern Alaska.
Its northernmost range is said to be along the northern fringe of the Chugach
Mountains in southcentral Alaska. Introduced populations can also
be found in such areas as Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, Oregon, Colorado, Texas, South
Dakota, and the Olympic Peninsula of Washington.
Mountain goats are the largest
mammals found in their high-altitude habitats, which can exceed elevations of 13,000 feet (4,000 m).
They usually stay above the tree line throughout the
year but they will migrate seasonally to higher or lower elevations within that
range. Winter migrations to low-elevation mineral licksoften take them several kilometers through forested
Mountain goats are herbivores
and spend most of their time grazing. Their diets include grasses, herbs, sedges, ferns, mosses, lichens, and twigs
and leaves from the low-growing shrubs and conifers of their high-altitude habitat. In captivity, the
mountain goat's diet can also include grain, alfalfa, fruits, and vegetables, and grass.
In the wild, mountain goats
usually live 12 to 15 years, with their lifespans limited by the wearing down
of their teeth.
Despite their common name, they
are not a member of the genus Capra like all domestic goats. The
Mountain Goat is of the orderArtiodactylaand the familyBovidaewhich also includes antelopes,gazelles, andcattle. They belong to the subfamily Caprinae (goat-antelopes),
along with 32 other species including true
the chamois, and the muskox. The mountain goat is the only species in the genus Oreamnos
. The name Oreamnos
is derived from the Greek term oro
"mountain" and the wordamnos