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Details about: Mountain Goats
Mountain Goat on CanadianWildlife.comMountain goat in the winter

High in the alpine forest, Mountain Goats majestically sport glimmering white fur coats.

The Mountain Goat, standing in its bright white coat in sheer contrast to the black cliff face is a true expert of mountaineering. Sharp rimed hooves, surrounding a softer, almost rubbery, inner sole allows these climbing pros to bound upon and hug even the tinniest cliff edges.

Mountain Goats are an even-toed ungulate. While they are in the same family as true goats, they belong to a different genus (meaning they are genetically diverse). Male mountain goats, called billies, stand on average 36” - 42” (90 cm - 105 cm) at the shoulder, measure 48” - 68” (120 cm - 170 cm) long (from nose to tail) and weigh between 100 lb - 300 lb (45 kg - 136 kg). Female mountain goats, called nannies, are usually 10% - 30% lighter and smaller than the billies.

Adult billies and nannies appear very similar visually. Both billies and nannies grow horns, up to 9” (22 cm) long for nannies and up to 12” (30 cm) long for billies, as well, both grow beards, with the billies beards being longer, up to 5” (12 cm) in total length, than the nannies. These beards however, are not true beards, but are an extension of the neck hair.
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The horns, hooves, nose and eyes are black contrasting their glamorous, bright yellowish-white fur. The coat of the Mountain Goat is made up of two layers of hair. The outer hairs, being hollow, provide excellent weather resistance as well as capturing and glimmering in the sunlight. The inner coat is a dense soft hair that provides the excellent insulation needed to survive in their alpine home. The combination of inner- and outer-coat keeps Mountain Goats warm in temperatures as low as -50° F (-45° C) and in winds up to 100 mph (160 km/h). In the spring, the billies are the first to shed the warm undercoat with the pregnant nannies shedding later.

In May & June nannies give birth to a single kid, weighing only 6½ lbs (3 kg). Within hours the kid can walk and tries to run and jump about. The nanny protects the kid from the hazards of youth, standing over top of them when danger approaches and even positioning themselves downhill from the kid in case of an accidental slip or fall.

Usually active in the mornings and evenings, they can sometimes be observed grazing during full moon. The Mountain Goat’s individual daily movements tend to be constrained to a certain area, rock face, cliff ledge or alpine meadow. It is as a group, depending on food availability that they move to a new area. Primarily seen in their alpine homes grazing on grass, shrubs and sedges, they can be seen to descend down to the waters edge during the winter months.

Mountain Goats perform grand displays of aggression when defending their territories and grazing areas from other mountain goats and even bighorn sheep, however, unlike the bighorn sheep, they have fragile horns and skulls and very rarely will get into a head-butting fight. Nannies are very adept at protecting themselves and their kids from predators using both their horns and sharp rimmed hooves.

Mountain Goat herds form loose groups, separating the nannies & kids from the billies, relying on their keen eyesight and the remoteness of their high alpine location for safety as they mill about, climbing up and down rock faces, defying gravity as they search for their favorite greens.

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