Found in the Rocky Mountains from southern Canada to Colorado
Alpine meadows and foothills near rocky cliffs at elevations ranging from 7,000 to 10,000 feet.
- Males are about six feet (1.8 m) long; females are four and a half to five and a half feet (1.3-1.7 m) long.
- Males weigh 125-300 pounds (56-135 kg); females weigh 75-200 pounds (34-90 kg).
- Males stand three to three and a half feet tall (1.1 m) at the shoulder.
- Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep have brown to gray brown fur with a distinctive white rump patch and white on the belly, muzzle, back of legs and a white eye patch.
- Males have massive horns that spiral backwards from the top of the head forming a curl that can measure over three feet (1 m); females have much smaller horns.
What Does It Eat?
In the wild: In summer they eat grasses including horsetail, bluegrass, June grass, needle grass and wheat grass. In winter they eat woody items such as willow, alder and some evergreens.
At the zoo: Hay, grain and vitamin supplements.
What Eats It?
Wolves, mountain lions, coyotes and eagles prey on this species.
Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep are social animals that live in herds. In spring and summer, males form bands of up to 10 individuals led by a dominant ram. Females and young form separate herds and generally graze away from the males. In winter, larger mixed herds form consisting of up to 100 males, females and young.
Females, called “ewes,” mature at about two and a half years of age. During the fall rutting season, males have head butting contests to determine dominance and breeding rights. Because of the need to establish dominance, males rarely breed before the age of six. After a gestation of about 180 days, females give birth to a single lamb; twins are rare. Lambs are born with horn buds, can stand almost immediately and can run and climb within a day or two. Lambs are weaned at four to six months and weigh about 75 pounds (34 kg) as winter begins. Bighorn sheep live an average of eight years, but can live up to 16-18 years.