Mountain Goats vs Mountain Sheep
Although sheep and goat are much similar animals, there are many differences between mountain goat and mountain sheep. Their physical characteristics including external appearance, natural distribution, and behavioural temptations are easily comparable between these two animals. This article explores the characteristics and then emphasizes the difference between mountain goat and mountain sheep for a proper understanding.
Mountain goat, Oreamnos americanus, belongs to the endemic fauna of North America with a characteristic coat and a large body. They taxonomically belong to the Subfamily: Caprinae like all the goat and sheep, but mountain goat is not considered as a true goat of the Genus: Capra. The males are known as Billies while the females are known as Nannies in common tongue. However, the mountain goat has a large but goat-like head, characteristic beard, and black colour horns. Their horns could grow up to almost one foot sometimes, but the large body size makes those horns look small. The bodyweights sometimes reach over 130 kilograms and the height measure around one metre at their shoulders. The Nannies are smaller by 10 – 30% compared to Billies. One of the most appealing features of mountain goat is the purely white coloured fur with a double coat. The inner coat is dense and woolly while the outer coat is long and contains hollow hairs. Mountain goats are well known for their aggressive behaviours, as there are frequent fights in their herds, especially between males. They usually inhabit the high altitudes of the Rocky Mountains, and usually it is a hard job for their predators to climb that high for hunting. Additionally, mountain goats are excellent climbers of steep slopes of the Rocky Mountain. Their movement patterns have been mainly controlled by their requirements, and the daily movements would portray the predator avoidance and other main biological demands viz. food, heat, or rest. However, the seasonal movement patterns are mainly based on the reproductive needs and other climatic and nutritional demands to keep them alive.
The mountain sheep is also known as Argali in common language, and as Ovis ammon in the biological classification. There are nine recognized subspecies of argali, and all of them are confined to the Central Asian mountainous habitats. They make the largest of all the wild sheep in the world with a height at shoulders being varied between 100 and 130 centimetres. In addition, their bodyweights reach 180 kilograms, and body length measures easily about two metres. Argali differ in their coat colourations from light yellowish colour to dark greyish brown. There is a whitish line of fur along the ventral side of the neck in male mountain sheep. The large and thick corkscrew horns are prominent in males, and sometimes the two horns measure almost 190 centimetres together in length. These amazing horns are useful for them in fights as well as for humans in Chinese medicine.
What is the difference between Mountain Goat and Mountain Sheep?
• Mountain goat is endemic to North America while mountain sheep is an exclusively Asian species.
• Mountain sheep is more diversified into subspecies than mountain goat.
• Mountain sheep is larger and heavier than mountain goat.
• Mountain sheep has thick and large horns, which are prominent in their appearance. However, the horns of mountain goats are slender and not prominent.
• Mountain goat has a more prominent beard compared to mountain sheep.
• The fur coat of mountain goat is purely white in colour without other marks. However, mountain sheep do not have a specific colour, but it could vary from light yellowish colour to dark greyish brown.