Mountain Goat (Oreamnos americanus)


Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family:    Bovidae
Size:    Length: 4 to 6 feet (1.22 to 1.83 m)
Weight: 100 to 300 pounds (45 to 136 kg)
Diet: Lichens, moss, green plants, bark and twigs
Distribution: The Rocky Mountains of western North America
Young:  1 to 3 kids, once a year or every other year
Animal Predators:  Cougars, grizzlies, wolverines, wolves and coyotes
IUCN Status: No special status
Terms: Young: Kid
Lifespan: Average 12 years



·        In herds, females with kids are dominant.

·        Mountain goats are also known as Rocky mountain goats.

·        It is difficult to distinguish a female from a male, as they both have horns.



Mountain goats are not considered true goats, because while goats’  horns curl up and back in a tight spiral, mountain goats’ horns only have a slight curve. Their fur is thick and white, and they have a beard. Their eyes, nose, hooves and horns are black. Males are larger than females. Although they have predators, their sharp hooves and horns make them formidable fighters. They have strong hind legs and rubber-like soles on their feet, both of which enable them to climb rocks and jump from one rock to another. 



Mountain goats can be found naturally in northern Washington, Idaho and Montana, and up through the Canadian Rockies to southern Alaska. They have been introduced to South Dakota, Colorado, Oregon, Nevada and Wyoming. They prefer to live in cold climates with sparse snow and rocky cliffs, but in summer they can often be found in alpine meadows.


Feeding Habits

Mountain goats feed on lichens, moss, green plants, bark and twigs. They forage for food in small herds. In the springtime, mountain goats travel a great distance to salt licks that provide them with essential minerals. 



Mating season occurs from November to December. Mountain goats are polygamous, meaning that they mate with more than one partner. However, battles between males for access to females are uncommon, as their horns and skull are relatively fragile. Female goats give birth to one kid in late spring. They have been known to have twins or triplets as well. They move to a steep, rugged area of a cliff to give birth, in order to make sure their kid is as safe as possible from prey. Within minutes, the kid is able to walk and nurse. At six weeks, the kid begins to eat solid food alongside its mother, and by August or September is fully weaned. It will stay with its mother until she gives birth again. Mountain goats are able to reproduce when they reach between two and three years of age. 



Mountain goats are social animals that live in herds. In winter the groups are large, while in summer they are small. They are most active in the early morning, and again at dusk. Mountain goats use secretions from glands at the base of their horns to mark their territory. Their ability to scale sheer cliff walls keeps them out of reach of most predators. When the snow gets too high, they move to lower levels in order to find food. Mountain goats walk slowly and stiffly, but are adept climbers and can leap almost four yards (3.65 m) in one jump. 



Avalanches and rockslides kill a great number of goats each year, but their populations are stable. British Columbia has the largest population of mountain goats, with an estimated 100,000 individuals. 



Mountain Goat Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US