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Know Before You Go

Bighorn Sheep Facts | Glacier & Waterton Wildlife Guide

Bighorn sheep are perhaps best known for their high-speed, forceful collisions with competitors. In these jousting matches, they can generate hundreds of pounds of force, far more than is needed to crack a human skull.

PHYSICAL CHARACTERISTICS

The bighorn sheep’s fur is tan or brown with a white muzzle, rump and stomach. The ram’s large horns can weigh 30 or 40 pounds, representing more than 10 percent of total body weight. The ewe’s, or female’s, horns are thinner and straighter. Males weigh anywhere from 125 to 300 pounds; the females of this species are smaller, weighing between 75 and 200 pounds. Bighorn sheep are skilled climbers and jumpers. Their rubberlike hooves help them grip onto slippery rocks and steep ledges in Glacier and Waterton

FEEDING HABITS

In the summer, bighorn sheep graze on clover, sedges and grasses. During colder months, they eat woody plants like willow and sage, and in desert regions, they browse on brushy plants such as cactus and holly. When not grazing, these creatures will lie down and chew their cud.

BEHAVIOR & BREEDING

In autumn, rams establish their dominance through head butting contests and will typically only challenge males with similar-sized horns. They charge at speeds of up to 20 miles per hour, ramming their heads together in a duel that can last upward of 20 hours! The dominant ram will mate with more females than the other rams. When a male is ready to mate, he will go into a herd of females. The female will chase the male before they mate, and sometimes, a male will kick a female to get her to chase him.

Females typically give birth to their single offspring on a cliff that is difficult to access. Lambs are born woolly and white with little horns. For the first week of its life, the lamb stays in seclusion where it was born, then begins to follow its mother. Although they can walk and climb by the first day, the young are not weaned until about 5 months of age. Males leave their mother and join a bachelor group at 2 to 4 years of age, while female lambs will typically remain with their mother’s group for their entire lives.
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Glacier & Waterton: An International Treasure
New Active Walking Options!

Glacier & Waterton: An International Treasure

Sheer-walled peaks, icy lakes, alpine valleys carpeted in summer wildflowers, and magnificent wildlife! Discover all the wonders on both sides of the border with local guides who know this land intimately.

  Photo departures available
9 Days / Jun–Sep
From $6995
Limited to 10-12 Travelers
New Active Walking Options!
Hidden Yellowstone & Grand Teton Safari

Hidden Yellowstone & Grand Teton Safari

A small-group exploration of Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons as few get to experience them—scout for wildlife and discover secret places with our naturalist guides who know this region intimately. 

  Photo departures available
7 Days / May–Oct
From $6395
Limited to 13 Travelers
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Together, Natural Habitat Adventures and World Wildlife Fund have teamed up to arrange nearly a hundred nature travel experiences around the globe, while helping to protect the spectacular places we visit and their wild inhabitants.

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