The name of mountain sheep and what they look like, where they live and what they eat

The name of mountain sheep and what they look like, where they live and what they eat

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The relatives of domesticated sheep are the mountain sheep species. They live in the wild and are adapted to locomotion in rocky terrain that combines bluffs and vertical slopes. Animals can be found in parts of Eurasia, North America and the African continent. Most representatives are considered rare species.

What is the name of the mountain sheep

Mountain rams are artiodactyl mammals that belong to the bovid family. The Latin designation of the species is Ovis ammon. According to legend, the name comes from the name of one of the gods. The inhabitants of Olympus turned into animals, fearing the giant Typhus. And Amon took the form of a ram. Experts disagree about the classification and number of species of these animals. The term "mountain sheep" is most often used in relation to the largest member of the group. Arkhar translated from the Mongolian language means "wild sheep".

Origin of the species

The question of the origin of sheep has not been completely studied. Scientists are still interested in who is the ancestor of animals.

There are several types:

  1. Mouflons are found mainly in Asia. Many researchers doubt that it was this group of animals that became the ancestor of modern species.
  2. Wild rams, argali, are among the largest representatives of the bovids. Giants are found in the foothills of Central Asia. The primogeniture of individuals has also not been proven.
  3. Aragali, originally from the Himalayas and Transbaikalia, is considered the most likely ancestor of sheep.

The mountain sheep classification system is constantly changing. As a result of research, new species of artiodactyls are identified, and representatives of other subspecies are combined into separate groups.

Description and characteristics

Mountain rams are large animals with large horns that are screwed in like a corkscrew. The edges have a rounded shape, and reach from 1 to 2 meters in length. Males fight for the right to be considered the leader of the herd. And the horns are a formidable weapon of war.

An adult ram weighs from 60 to 190 kilograms, females are 2 times lighter. The most impressive is the Pamir argali. This bovine is also called Marco Polo after the traveler who first described the animal. The mountain ram reaches 1.8 meters in length, but has a short tail - 10-17 centimeters. The color of artiodactyls varies from yellow to dark brown. The natives of the Himalayas are dark, the Russian subspecies looks much lighter. Males are distinguished by a white collar around their necks and a darker coat than females. Animals molt twice a year.

Habitat and habitat

Mountain sheep are representatives of the fauna of high mountain regions. The most common areas where animals live are:

EuropeanOne of the representatives of the European species inhabits the south of the continent, Sardinia and Corsica
AsiaticThe subspecies is widespread in Asia and the Caucasus
CypriotA rare, almost extinct species found in Cyprus
ArgaliRepresentatives of this group live in Altai, Kazakhstan, Tibet and other high-mountainous regions. The largest are people from the Pamir rocks.
SnowyThese artiodactyls have chosen the vastness of Eastern Siberia.
Bold-horned and thin-hornedTerritory of species residence - North America
Urial, or steppe ramLives in Central Asia and Kashmir

Mountain rams rarely travel long distances. The migration area rarely exceeds 40 square kilometers. In summer, the livestock rises to alpine meadows in the mountains, in winter it descends to valleys, where there is less snow, it is easier to find food.

What the animal eats

Herbs are the basis of the diet of the bovids. In high-altitude conditions, rams find a space free from trees, but with a variety of vegetation. Ewes and young animals feed separately from males. Adults occupy lower-level areas where significant food supplies can be found.

In the upland areas, wild sheep find various grasses and sedges, a little lower - shrubs and mesophytes.

A valuable substance for sheep is salt, with the help of which they replenish the reserves of minerals in the body. Animals also gladly eat the branches of trees such as oaks or maples, but cereals are considered the greatest delicacy. The daily feed intake for mature males ranges from 16 to 19 kilograms. In the mountains, small streams and melted snow become a source of water for wild sheep. In arid regions, animals sometimes have to travel long distances in search of water.

The nature and lifestyle of the ram

Alone mountain sheep are rare, animals often form small herds. Ewes with offspring live in groups separate from adult males. Migration is usually associated with the search for food. In the hot season, artiodactyls move closer to the top of the mountain.

Expert opinion

Zarechny Maxim Valerievich

Agronomist with 12 years of experience. Our best summer cottage expert.

But sometimes natural disasters or fires cause the herd to move. Poachers are also able to force animals to leave their habitats.

Mountain sheep are quick-witted. They warn their relatives about the danger with a low bleating sound. They are trying to avoid a direct collision with enemies. The ability to jump from one rock to another helps to escape predators. In length, the animal jumps at a distance of 3-5 meters. In situations that do not pose a threat to life, wild animals demonstrate a peaceful disposition.

Social structure and reproduction

Rut in mountain sheep begins in mid-autumn and lasts until January inclusive. In animals living at lower elevation levels, this period is sometimes longer. For the right to mate with a female, adult rams arrange a real battle. The blows of the horns they exchange can be heard at a distance of about 800 meters. The winner chooses the female.

Individuals of the female genus reach sexual maturity at 2 years, much earlier than males, who begin to mate with the opposite sex no earlier than 5 years. The wild rams are next to the chosen one for 2 months after the rut. The period of bearing offspring reaches approximately 165 days. Usually, childbirth occurs in March or April.

The main characteristics of the formation of animals:

Lamb weight at birthup to 5 kg
Weight gain in the first day after birthtenfold
The appearance of the first milk tooth in lambsin 3 months
Final tooth shapingin 6 months
Age of maximum weight gain:
in females2 years
in males4 years
Life span10-12 years old

1 lamb usually yields 1 lamb. Some bovids give birth to twins, sometimes five lambs are born at once. The offspring of the female continues to feed on milk even after the appearance of teeth.

Natural enemies of mountain sheep

Artiodactyls do not avoid other animals. When mountain rams stick together, horns and a fast run provide protection from danger. But if an individual remains alone, it freezes in place until the threat passes.

The ability to navigate rocky terrain provides reliable protection from predators. Artiodactyls can become victims of wolves. They are also hunted by leopards, leopards and other representatives of the feline family, and small animals are hunted by golden eagles and eagles.

Population and status of the species

The number of mountain sheep has decreased in recent years. Some species are endangered. Predators aren't the only factors driving the decline in livestock numbers. Poachers have long been attracted to luxurious animal horns, skins and meat. Bans on the sale of valuable raw materials do not deter traders in clandestine goods. Artiodactyls are shot even in territories under state protection. In China, the horns of rams are used in folk medicine. In Russia, the reduction of the population is influenced by the extraction of minerals, in Mongolia - by the development of agriculture. Urbanization processes lead to a decrease in rare animals in many countries.

View preservation issues

Mountain sheep are included in the Red Book of Russia, China, Kazakhstan and other states. In different parts of the world, nature reserves are created where rare animals are caught only for breeding. In zoos, artiodactyls are kept in spacious pens, in which a separate room is provided for protection from bad weather. Comfortable conditions help the herd easily adapt to captivity.

The appearance of offspring outside the wild environment gives hope for the restoration of the population. Domesticated animals are also crossed with domesticated sheep, which contributes to the emergence of new breeds.

Watch the video: BIGHORN SHEEP TASTE TEST (December 2022).