Can you answer these mountain goat questions?
Grab your best stuffed animal friend and a notebook to use for this week’s activities–your safari field journal–and let’s get started! If you need help answering some questions, an adult can help you look for answers online.
- Where do mountain goats mainly live?
- What does this habitat look like? Draw it in your safari field journal!
- Could your stuffed animal friend live in this kind of habitat? Why or why not?
- What is one special adaptation mountain goats have to help them survive in their habitat?
- What do mountain goats eat? Are they carnivores, herbivores, or omnivores?
- Are mountain goats endangered, vulnerable, or least concern? What does this mean for future populations?
Mountain goats (Oreamnos americanus) are unique to the mountains of Northwestern North America. Funnily enough, these animals aren’t even true goats, but goat-antelopes. They can be found from southeastern Alaska all the way through northern Colorado. These animals are very versatile in nature and are constantly on the move in their mountainous habitat.
Also known as Rocky Mountain goats, these animals have thick white layers of fur that cover their bodies. The white color allows for perfect camouflage in their snowy habitat. Their fur is divided into two layers—a shorter wool layer covers most of their body to protect them from the colder weather and longer, hollow hairs comprise the outer layer. These coverings, and their long beards, help with cold temperatures that can get down to -46°F.
Mountain goats are the largest mammal to live in a mountain range—they even climb into altitudes exceeding 13,000 feet! They are constantly on the move, roaming the mountains looking for food, protecting themselves from predators, resting, or regulating their body temperature. They also move seasonally! Their clove-hoofed feet allow them to balance on rocks while the rough pads on their feet act like grips.
Mountain goats have a very interesting diet. Being herbivores, they rely a lot on grasses, herbs, and lichens to name a few. They will also salt lick, a practice in which certain mammals will lick the salt and other minerals off of designated deposits. This allows for the mountain goats to maintain a happy and healthy diet.
Mountain goats’ conservation status is technically “least concern” which means these animals have a steady population, but there are plenty of practices humans can do to prevent them from being harmed and help protect them. This includes citizen science efforts that can help maintain and observe goat population and migratory patterns, as well as scientist-lead research efforts, like observing habitat and disease.