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Chamois Facts | Switzerland Wildlife Guide

Chamois inhabit mountains, alpine meadows, steep slopes, and rocky terrain between 2,600 to 12,000 feet. Some Chamois can reach speeds of 31 miles per hour, even on rocky terrain!

Like the ibex, chamois have horns not antlers, which means they grow continuously over the lifespan. Unlike the ibex, where one can easily distinguish between males and females, both sexes of chamois have similarly sized horns. Female horns are slightly slenderer, while male horns curve backward.

Rutting takes place in November, when males often engage in brutal fighting for females. Sounds and smells play an important role in the mating and fighting process. They also facilitate communication throughout the year, with male chamois rubbing their horns on branches and twigs leaving a secretion from glands behind the horns. This allows males, who live solitary lives, to recognize each other. Females live in small herds with their young.

Hunting, loss of habitat, lack of food and disease pose the greatest threat to the species. The chamois is one of the species living in Switzerland that didn’t succumb to extinction in the late 19th or early 20th century, but it was close. Of current concern to researchers is chamois-blindness, caused by a virus that can often affect an entire herd from time-to-time.
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