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Taken at the Sonoran Desert Museum with Canon Powershot SX10IS
These native sheep are named for the males’ massive coiled horns, which serves as status symbols during the breeding season. Composed of a bony core covered by keratin, the horns continue to grow throughout the sheep’s life, eventually weighing as much as 30 pounds! The females horns are much slimmer, ans only slightly curved. Both sexes have brownish-gray hair (not wool) and a conspicuous white rump patch.
For most of the year the males wander alone away from the ewes and their young. Bachelor groups disband in late summer to join female flocks where they battle for the right to mate. The males will rear on their back legs, drop their heads and charge each other as fast as 20mph! The bigger stronger male wins the gal.
One of the Bighorn’s survival techniques are their cloven hooves. They consist of hard, horny shells with rough, resilient centers that provide excellent traction. Helpful in the ability to escape in rugged, sometimes vertical terrain.