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Ovibos moschatus

Muskox

Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae

Image of Ovibos moschatus
Ovibos moschatus - female, left; male, right
Click to enlarge. (102 kb)

Conservation Status: Least Concern.


Muskoxen are well adapted to their cold Arctic habitat, with short, stocky bodies and a thick coat of ground-length hair, enhanced in the winter by woolly underhairs for added insulation. They feed on sedges, grasses, and willows. Like other mammals in the family Bovidae, they are ruminants: they gulp down a large quantify of food, then regurgitate and re-chew it at leisure. This behavior - chewing their cud - lets them break down the vegetation and digest it better. It also lets them forage quickly, which may be a protection from predators. Females and young Muskoxen live in mixed-sex groups year-round. Some bulls live alone in the summer, but are likely to join all-male or mixed-sex groups in winter. Bulls breed with several females. Competition involves clashing with horns and their heavily shielded heads. Muskoxen also use their horns in a group defense strategy against their principle predators, wolves and brown bears: they back into a circle or cluster, with head and horns facing outward. Individual animals dart out to charge at the intruder.

Also known as:
Oomingmak

Sexual Dimorphism:
Males are larger than females.

Length:
Range: 2.1-2.6 m males; 1.9-2.4 m females

Weight:
Range: 186-410 kg males; 160-191 kg females

References:

Zimmermann, E.A.W., 1780.  Geographische Geschichte des Menschen, und der allgemein verbreiteten vierfüssigen Thiere. Zweiter Band. Enthält ein vollständiges Verzeichniss aller bekannten Quadrupeden,  Weygandschen Buchhandlung, Leipzig, (2nd volume) pp. 86-88.

Links:

Mammal Species of the World

Mammalian Species, American Society of Mammalogists' species account

Distribution of Ovibos moschatus

Image of Ovibos moschatus
Click to enlarge. (64kb)