Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana)


Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family:    Antilocapridae
Size:    Length: 36 to 60 inches (91 to 152 cm)   Height: 30 to 42 inches (76 to 107 cm) 
Weight: 70 to 130 pounds (32 to 59 kg)
Diet: Shrubs, grass and cacti
Distribution: North America
Young:  1 or 2 fawns, once per year
Animal Predators:  Wolves, coyotes and bobcats
IUCN Status: Critically Endangered/ Endangered/ Lower Risk, Conservation Dependent
Terms: Young: Fawn
Lifespan: 6 to 10 years in the wild and up to 12 years in captivity



·       Pronghorns blow through their nostrils when angered.

·       A pronghorn is depicted on Alberta’s coat of arms.

·       Pronghorns continuously shed, making their fur unsuitable for coats or rugs. 

·       Pronghorns are the best high-speed, endurance runners of all mammals; they can sustain a speed of about 40 mph (65 kph) over distances greater than 6.2 miles (10 km).



Pronghorn antelopes have reddish-brown fur above, white undersides and a white rump, as well as white and black markings on their face. They have long legs and large, dark eyes. Pronghorns are only the only animals in the world that have branched horns, as opposed to antlers, and are also the only animals to shed their horn sheaths annually, leaving the bony cores intact. Both females and males have horns, although those of the males are generally twice as large, and the males shed theirs each year after mating season. The females also shed theirs, but there is no set time in which they do so. 



Pronghorns can be found from Saskatchewan, Canada through the western United States to Mexico, on open plains or semi-desert, where predators can be spotted from miles away and where they can race away over flat lands for miles to escape danger. They live mostly on grasslands and brushlands, with a small percentage living in desert areas. The herds have territories that are marked by the dominant males.


Feeding Habits

Pronghorns eat plants that are poisonous to cattle, making them a valuable asset for ranchers and farmers. Despite their apparent competition with cattle for some types of vegetation—one pronghorn needs only a fraction of what one cow eats in a day.



Breeding occurs in late July in warmer climates, and from September to October in the north. Pronghorns are polygamous, and a dominant male will mate with several females. A female’s first pregnancy will usually result in one offspring, with subsequent pregnancies resulting in twins. The pregnancy lasts eight months. Newborn fawns are grey in colour and weigh from five to 10 pounds (2.3 to 4.5 kg) and in only several days can run at speeds of up to 45 miles (74 km) per hour. They have no scent and for the first week will lie motionless for hours to escape detection by a predator while their mother is grazing. At one month of age, fawns graze alongside their mother and become weaned at four months.  



Pronghorns live in herds of up to 1000 animals during the winter, and break into smaller groups during spring and summer. They have excellent vision and are able to see for up to four miles (6.4 km), enabling them to spot predators heading towards them. When danger is imminent, they raise their white rump hairs, alerting other pronghorns of the herd, including those up to two miles (3.2 km) away. Pronghorns can reach speeds of over 53 miles (85 km) per hour, making them the fastest mammals in the western hemisphere. Pronghorns tend to be high-strung, alternating short sessions of sleep with feeding throughout the night and day. Although pronghorns can leap 20 feet (6 m) in a single bound, they will not jump fences, preferring to crawl through or under them. 



Pronghorns have lived in North America for over 20 million years. Millions roamed the plains of America, alongside bison and deer. When European settlers arrived, pronghorns were hunted nearly to extinction. Pronghorn numbers went from more than 35 million to less than 20,000 in the 1920s, but hunting controls and wildlife management programs have helped to bring the population up to approximately one million in 2000. Three populations are listed on the IUCN Red List: the New Mexican pronghorn (A. a. Mexicana) of New Mexico and Mexico is listed as Lower Risk, Conservation Dependent; the Baja Californian pronghorn (A. a. peninsularis) of Mexico is Critically Endangered and the Sonoran Pronghorn  (A. a. sonoriensis) of Mexico and the southern U.S. bordering Mexico is listed as Endangered. 



Pronghorn Wildlife Fact File, IM Pub, US

Vaughan, T., Ryan, J. and Czaplewski, N. (2000). Mammalogy, Fourth Edition. Orlando: Saunders College Publishing.