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Adaptations

 

Throughout history, bighorn sheep have lived through many different environments, and yet, still continue to thrive. From the years of the Westward Expansion to life in 2007, bighorn sheep adapt to their environment by adapting to us. Some of their physical features include:

  1. Bighorn sheep know their terrain. Rocky Mountain bighorns do not migrate during the winter months like many animals. Instead they tough it out, reducing the number of predators they encounter.
  2. Because of the harsh conditions of the Rockies, bighorns develop a thick layer of course hair over their usual coat in the winter. During June and July, molting takes place, losing their thick outer coat in patches.
  3. The acute eyesight of bighorns allows them to see a mile away. This is useful for spotting predators or finding hiding spots if being hunted.
  4. Although bighorns are not predators and cannot defend themselves, their sheer muscular anatomy makes them a tough animal to kill. Being in top physical shape also allows them to run at high speeds (20+mph) for long durations if being hunted.
  5. Although bighorns do combat for dominance, they do not kill each other. They travel in herds, reducing the chance of a particular bighorn being killed.
  6. The hooves of a bighorn are perfectly designed for the terrain. Each hoof is separated into halves, conforming to fit even the slipperiest of mountainsides. The inside of the hoof, being cushioned, allows them to keep their balance on uneven surfaces.
  7. Bighorn sheep are not susceptible to hyperthermia. Being excellent swimmers, bighorns are often around water. They normally have an internal body temperature of 101F, but can tolerate temperatures up to 107F.