Mountain Goats

Species Spotlight: The Amazing Mountain Goats

You probably know about goats, but have you heard of the lesser-known mountain goats? Mountain goats are, in fact, not actually goats at all. Rather, they are classified under the genus Bovidae. This makes them more similar to antelopes, gazelles, and cattle. Mountain goats are best known for their amazing climbing skills. They have adapted to the steep, rocky terrain that they live in and have developed strong hooves that allow them to climb slopes with inclines of 60-80°. The goats’ high-risk climb comes with a high reward that you might not expect: salt. That’s right, mountain goats climb nearly vertical slopes to get to rocks that contain salt. Due to the high altitude of 13,000 feet that they live in, mountain goats are not endangered by many predators. However, mountain goat populations are sparse, as the animals only inhabit North America’s mountainous and rocky regions.

Females are called “nannies,” males are known as “billies,” and baby mountain goats are “kids.” Nannies spend most of their time protecting and taking care of the kids, while billies tend to stay in individual groups with other billies. Mating season usually takes place in late November and early December. If multiple billies are interested in mating with a nanny, they will fight, head to side. Usually, only half of the nannies in a mountain goat population give birth in the same mating season.

Birth happens in the springtime when the weather is better and there is more to eat. In the wintertime, unlike other animals, mountain goats do not hibernate but instead stay in their yearly habitat, despite freezing weather conditions. They graze on the small shrubs, grassy plants, mosses, lichen, and other vegetation that grows in the environment that they live in.