Alabama Gazette - The people's voice of reason

Pronghorn

 

Pronghorn is antelope-like animal that lives in North America. There are four subspecies of pronghorn that can be found in Mexico, Arizona, throughout the Great Plains and in the Canada. Pronghorn inhabits open grasslands and deserts. It can survive on the altitude of up to 11 000 feet. Main factors that decrease number of pronghorns in the wild are habitat loss, hunting and manmade fences for the livestock (they disturb natural migratory routes). Mexican population of pronghorns is critically endangered (it may disappear from the wild in the near future).

They are usually 3 feet tall and 3 to 5 feet long. They can reach from 90 to 150 pounds of weight. Males are heavier than females. They are reddish brown in color and have a white belly and white stripes on their throat. Erected white hairs on the rump are used to inform other members of the group about potential danger. This patch of white fur can be seen miles away. Pronghorns can change position of hairs on the skin. Straight up hairs ensure circulation of the air near the skin and elimination of excess body heat during the hot days. During the cold nights, hairs lie flat, close to the body to prevent loss of body heat. Pronghorns have backward curled horns. Males have 9.8 inches long horns with forward oriented prongs. Females have 4.7 inches long horns without prongs. Horns have bony base covered with layers of keratin and hairs that are shed annually after breeding season. Pronghorns are active both during the day and night. Pronghorns are herbivores (plant eaters). Their diet includes different types of grass, sagebrush, forbs, bushes and cacti. Pronghorns absorb water from the food they eat. Pronghorn returns food from the stomach back to the mouth and chew it several times before it becomes ready for intestinal digestion. Pronghorn is the second fastest animal on the land (cheetah is the fastest). It can achieve speed of 53 miles per hour and run a mile and a half without slowing down. Main predators of pronghorns are coyotes, bobcats and wolves. Pronghorns are migratory animals. They travel long distances (170 miles) during seasonal migration each year. Males and females live in large herds (around 1000 animals) during the winter period. During the summer and spring, males and females live in separate herds. Mating season takes place during the autumn. Male gathers females (form a harem) on his territory and defends them aggressively from other males. Female gives birth to one or two babies in the spring. Babies stay with their mother until they reach the age of one year. Young animals reach sexual maturity at the age of 16 months. Pronghorns can survive 7 to 10 years in the wild and 12 years in the captivity.

 

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