Desert bighorn sheep Facts

Desert bighorn sheep Facts
Desert bighorn sheep is a type of ruminant mammal that belongs to the bovid family. It can be found in southwestern parts of the USA and northern parts of Mexico. Desert bighorn sheep inhabits rocky deserts, mountains and foothills covered with sparse vegetation. Population of desert bighorn sheep once consisted of millions of sheep. Thanks to diseases (transferred from domestic livestock), human encroachment and climate changes, less than 70 000 animals exist in the wild today. Despite great decline in population size, desert bighorn sheep is not on the list of endangered animals.
Interesting Desert bighorn sheep Facts:
Desert bighorn sheep can reach 5 feet in length and 100 to 220 pounds of weight. Males are much larger than females.
Desert bighorn sheep has grey or brown, hairy coat. Ramp is covered with white fur.
Desert bighorn sheep has stocky body, short tail, sharp hooves and large horns.
Desert bighorn sheep of both sex develop horns. Males have longer, circular horns that can reach more than 3 feet in length and around 30 pounds of weight. Females have lighter, less curved horns.
Horns are symbol of masculinity (the most dominant males have the biggest horns). They also facilitate opening of cacti (favorite source of food and water).
Desert bighorn sheep are diurnal animals. They spend hottest part of a day in the caves and shade of trees.
Desert bighorn sheep are herbivores. Their diet consists of cacti, herbs, shoots, twigs, leaves, forbs and some types of grasses.
Desert bighorn sheep extract moisture from the food they eat during the winter. They need to drink water at least once every three days during the summer.
Desert bighorn sheep use keen eyesight to detect predators. They seek protection on the nearby steep terrain (where rare animals are able to follow them).
Main predators of desert bighorn sheep are bobcats, wolves, coyotes and birds of prey.
Desert bighorn sheep are gregarious animals. Females and immature animals of both gender form herds of up to 20 animals. Males live in much smaller bachelor herds.
Mating season takes place from August to September. Males fight using their horns to establish dominance and get opportunity to mate. Battle may last up to 24 hours and can be heard one mile away.
Pregnancy in females lasts 150 to 180 days and ends with one, rarely two lambs. Baby is able to follow its mother on the steep terrain 24 hours after birth.
Desert bighorn sheep reach sexual maturity at the age of 1.5 years. Males become sexually active few years later (when they become strong enough to defeat older males and gain dominant status in the group).
Life expectancy of male desert bighorn sheep is 10 to 13 years in the wild. Females usually live longer (from 12 to 20 years).

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