The Dereila Nature Inn - a cyber nature centre for nature lovers
#10 - The Bighorn Sheep
The Bighorn Sheep, Ovis canadensis, is a true symbol of the wilderness. It is a magnificent resident of the
mountains and deserts of western North America from Alaska to Northern Mexico.
Bighorn Sheep climbing across a rocky slope.
The most obvious characteristic of the Bighorn Sheep is the massive curved horns which can weigh over 13 kg and measure up to 125 cm long! 

The horns, unlike antlers, are permanent, constantly grow and can be used to determine the sheep’s age.  Female horns are slightly curved and much shorter than the male’s.

Bighorns are relatives of domestic sheep, however they do not have a wooly coat but a rather short and coarse one.
Bighorn Sheep are noted for their agility and like the mountain goat are very much at home on steep and rocky terrain. They have specialized hoofs that are with a soft centre and hard rim giving the sheep excellent traction on the tricky, rocky slopes it inhabits.  Such habitant helps protect the sheep from predators.

For most of the year, the young sheep and ewes band together while the bachelor males form herds or go solitary.

During rutting season in the fall, males challenge each other by butting their heads.  They bash into each other at amazing speeds and incredible force.  The sound of this butting can be heard echoing through the mountains
Bighorn Sheep grazing on a hillside
Adults range in weight from 55 to 125 kg (120 to 280 lb), with the females being somewhat smaller. They are about 1.5 to 1.8 m ( 5 to 6 ft) long, standing 75 to 105 cm (2.5 to 3.5 ft) at the shoulder.

Both sexes sport a creamy white rump.
Bighorn Sheep with its big horns.
There are four subspecies of Bighorn Sheep in North America, some being endangered.  The images on this page are all of the Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep.
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