Marco Polo sheep Facts

Marco Polo sheep Facts
Marco Polo sheep is a subspecies of argali sheep that belongs to the bovid family. It can be found in Afghanistan, Pakistan, China and Tajikistan. Marco Polo sheep inhabits mountains, steep valleys, gentle slopes and highland pastures on the altitude from 12.100 to 15.700 feet. Marco Polo sheep is named after famous explorer from the 13th century who described meat and horns of these sheep in his book. Number of Marco Polo sheep in the wild is decreasing due to commercial hunt. Marco Polo sheep is listed as near threatened, which means that it can become endangered in the near future.
Interesting Marco Polo sheep Facts:
Marco Polo sheep can reach 6 feet in length and 278 pounds of weight. Tail is usually 4.7 to 6.3 inches long.
Body of Marco Polo sheep is covered with woolly coat that is dark brown on the upper side and white on the underside. Dark band on lateral side of the body separates these two types of wool. Males have white neck ruff which becomes prominent during the winter (at the beginning of the mating season). Females are generally lighter in color than males.
Marco Polo sheep are best known by their large horns that are characteristic for males. Horns start to grow 15 to 20 days after birth. They are shaped like corkscrew, positioned nearly parallel to the ground.
Horns of Marco Polo sheep can reach 6.2 feet in length and 60 pounds of weight.
Number of rings on the horns indicates age of male sheep.
Marco Polo sheep are diurnal (active during the day).
Marco Polo sheep are herbivores (plant eaters). They consume fresh plants during the spring and summer and dig roots from the ground during the winter.
Marco Polo sheep migrate from mountains toward the pastures (on the lower altitudes) at the beginning of the winter.
Main predators of adult sheep are wolves, leopards and snow leopards, while foxes, golden eagle and Lammergeyer prey on lambs.
Marco Polo sheep live in family groups composed of around 10 animals of one sex during the summer and spring. Males and females gather in large groups (50 to 90 animals) during the winter.
Mating season of Marco Polo sheep takes place during December.
Males fight to establish dominance and get opportunity to mate. They produce loud grunts during the fights.
Males detect receptive females by chemical composition of their urine. Dominant male gathers harem of females.
Pregnancy in female lasts 160 days and ends with one lamb. Mother leaves the herd to give birth. She returns to the group with her baby few days later. Females reach sexual maturity at the age of 2 years, males at the age of 5 years.
Marco Polo sheep can survive up to 13 years in the wild.

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