Bighorn Sheep Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Rebecca Gillaspy

Dr. Gillaspy has taught health science at University of Phoenix and Ashford University and has a degree from Palmer College of Chiropractic.

Bighorn sheep have hard heads! During mating season, male bighorn sheep compete for mating rights by ramming their heads together. Learn about this mating routine and other facts about the bighorn sheep.

A Bighorn Sheep Rut

Imagine being on a camping trip in the Rocky Mountains in the fall. After a good night's sleep, you step out of your tent and take a breath of the clean, crisp air. The only sound is the babbling brook and the scampering of the squirrels as they get ready for winter, until... CRASH! What was that? BANG! There it is again! You run toward the sound and see two bighorn sheep with curled horns running toward each other at top speed. BOOM!

Males fight during mating season
rut

You just witnessed a rut, which is a fight between male bighorn sheep during mating season. Bighorn sheep are wild sheep that live in North America. They are commonly found in the Rocky Mountains.

What Do Bighorn Sheep Look Like?

Male bighorn sheep, called rams, are big and muscular. They can weigh about 300 pounds, which is about as heavy as a professional American football player in the NFL. Male sheep stand about three feet tall at the shoulder. The horns on the mature male's heads curl around their face and can weigh as much as 30 pounds each. That would be like having ears that weigh as much as bowling balls!

Male Bighorn Sheep
males

The female bighorn sheep are called ewes,and are about half of the size of the males. Their horns are short and pointy. Both male and female bighorn sheep have wide-set eyes, which along with their good sense of hearing and smell, alerts them to the presence of predators nearby.

Bighorn sheep are mostly brown with white patches on their faces, bottoms, and the backs of their legs. Their feet have split hooves and rough bottoms, which help them balance and grip the rocky mountains that they climb on.

The Diet and Life of the Bighorn Sheep

Bighorn sheep are classified as herbivores because they eat plants, grasses, and seeds. They don't eat meat. The sheep always have to watch for predators, so when they are hungry, the sheetp walk out to the pasture and eat quickly before running back to the safety of the rocks. Once safe, they regurgitate the food and chew it thoroughly, which is called 'chewing their cud.'

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