Rocky mountain big horn sheep

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big-horn sheep Ovis Canadensis

Order Artiodactyla  Pigs, deer, pronghorns, sheep, goat, bison, elk, caribou

  • main axis of foot directly between 3rd and 4th digits
  • ankle bone has both ends rounded
  • premolars simpler than the molars- last molar usually 3-lobed
  • Selected families below are all cud-chewing ruminants with no upper incisors. All have complex 4-chambered stomachs that break down plant cellulose, enabling them to graze or browse for a long period, and then retire away from predators & midday heat for the time-consuming cud-chewing and digestion:

Family Bovidae sheep, goats, bison (horns not shed; may be present on both sexes)

Most U.S. populations have been re-introduced. Current range is open alpine meadows & grassy slopes near cliffs and rock ridges in mountains. They prefer sites with good visibility and little competition from other grazing animals. Often move downslope in winter.

Horns my be present in both sexes. Lack upper incisors; all chew-cud & have complex stomachs. Lower canine is spatula-shaped. World-wide, provide meat, milk, leather, wool, and serve as beasts of burden.


  • Both sexes have horns. Male horns spiral
  • Except during mating seasons, adult males move in separate bands from females & ewes.
  • Mating season is Nov.-Dec. when males have terrific fights, with predictable aggressive moves
  • A severe winter and food shortage s are the biggest predator of young. Subject to domestic sheep diseases
  • Have acute vision & hearing
  • Abdomen, insides of legs, & rump are white

Food: sedges, grass, & small forbs

Rocky mountain big horn sheep Ovis canadensis canadensis