So what's a mountain goat ?
Also I'll tell you what mountain goats are not. They are not goats.
If that seems weird, you have to remember that koala bears aren't bears, flying foxes aren't foxes and polecats aren't cats. Common names are a bit misleading which is why scientists use the Latin names.
Mountain goats are actually part of the antelope, gazelles and cow family. But they have a thick woollen coat because they are closely related to sheep and (proper) goats as well.
They have long black horns and thick white wool for the winter. They can be found in mountains in North America and south Alaska ( that's where my goat skull came from !) There are estimated to be about 100,000 mountain goats in North America, although they are probably a bit difficult to count for obvious reasons.
Their main predators are wolves, bears, cougars, and humans and they have a lifespan of about 12 years. They have hard shells on their hooves to walk up steep slopes. The females are called nannies and they spent most of their lives in herds with their kids, whereas males live in herds of two-three and they can get quite aggressive. Their mating season is from late November to early December and they usually have one kid although sometimes two, like red deer.
Cleaning the skull
The cleaned skull
They have horns like sheep. Horns are a layer of keratine - the same stuff as our hair and fingernails- over a hard bone spike, and you can take the horns off the skull to see the bone core. The bottom of the the horns is rougher - not as rough as in my blackface sheep, though - but the top-half is really smooth and the tip is sharp.
Male mountain goats are bigger than females, and that is usually a sign that the males fight during mating season.
In the mating season they fight, using their horns, for the females.
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