Mountain sheep: what are they?

Mountain sheep: what are they?
Mountain sheep: what are they?

One of the types of "climber animals", that is, living high in the mountains, are mountain sheep. These dexterous and graceful artiodactyls are close relatives of mountain goats, and their relatives also include musk oxen and taras. All of them belong to the family of bovids, and biologists themselves count seven different species of rams.

mountain sheep

It is interesting that the term "mountain sheep" is applied both to all 7 species of these animals, and to designate one of them - argali. How do they differ from the domesticated sheep and rams we are used to? For starters, of course, the length of the limbs. Against the background of squat, short-legged domestic sheep, mountain sheep look slender and light-footed, however, if we compare them with their closest brothers - mountain goats, then sheep definitely lose to them in leg length. In addition, unlike domestic sheep, mountain sheep have a significant superiority in size. The smallest representative of these animals is the mouflon. At the withers, he reaches only sixty-five centimeters. And the largest - argali - mountain sheep,reaching a height of 120 centimeters and a weight of up to two hundred kilograms. Another difference from their counterparts - mountain goats and domestic sheep: wild rams do not have a beard or tail tail.

mountain sheep with curled horns

But the greatest we alth of this animal is its horns. A mountain sheep with twisted horns is a symbol of fire and the sun. It is this animal that personifies the zodiac sign Aries. And his horns are really outstanding. All seven species of mountain sheep have massive horns that twist into a spiral. At the same time, the hair on the body of these animals is completely nondescript - from grayish to brown. This is natural mimicry. With this coloring, it is easy to hide from predatory animals, merging with the mountain landscape. The coloration of both males and females is the same, and they can only be distinguished by size: mountain sheep are often smaller and lighter than males.

Mountain sheep, as is clear from their name, are found in highlands, and exclusively in the northern hemisphere. Their main habitats are Altai, Tien Shan, Tibet and the Caucasus, where these animal species are represented in all their diversity. But in the European part of the continent, only mouflons can be found - they are found in the Crimea, the Alps, the mountains of Spain and Turkey. In Africa, only one of the species is found - the maned ram, which can be found in the Atlas Mountains in Tunisia or Morocco.

argali mountain sheep

Well, the main thing that distinguishes mountain sheep is their ingenuity. Unlike sheep, about whose stupidity there are sayings and legends, their mountainbrothers - animals are cautious and have a very fast reaction. They are not inclined to help the members of their herd, but at the same time they always observe their behavior in order to instantly avoid meeting with the enemy in the most incomprehensible way in case of danger. And mountain sheep are very successful in this - they are natural climbers and can jump over rocks up to five meters long, and in height - conquer a two-meter mark. Only mountain goats can outdo them in rock climbing.

Popular topic