Mountain Goat
Mountain Goat
Mountain Goat

Rocky Mountain Goats

April 2014
Updated: July 2019

Rocky Mountain Goats

Rocky Mountain goats can live up to 15 years in the wild. They can be up to three feet tall at the shoulder and five feet long. Based on a 2013 Nevada capture of 17 mountain goats conducted by Nevada Department of Wildlife, the average weight of females (nannies) is 145 pounds and 170 pounds for males (billies).

The animals were introduced into Nevada’s Ruby Mountains in the mid-1960s with the release of 12 goats obtained from the state of Washington. In 1981, 11 goats—also from Washington—were released into the East Humboldt Range, near Angel Lake. In 2012, the combined population estimate of both herds was 300.

Mountain goats are known for their exceptional agility. They can climb almost 1,500 vertical feet in 20 minutes. Their hooves are soft and curved, acting like suction cups on steep rocky terrain. Kids (young goats) are able to walk and jump about 10 minutes after being born.

During the summer, they have a short, white wooly coat. A small ridge of hair along the back of the neck forms a hump, and there is a beard on the chin. In the winter, the fur becomes long and shaggy and has a yellowish hue. Both sexes have black, slightly curved horns that grow to between eight and 10 inches long.

Their habitat includes steep rocky cliffs, projecting pinnacles, ledges, and talus slides. Their summer range is typically above 9,500 feet. Nannies with young will be found in lush alpine meadows, above cirque lakes, and on north-facing snow fields.

The primary social unit is a band consisting of one or more nannies and their kids as well as offspring from the previous year. Adult males are generally solitary during the summer but can be found in groups of two to five animals. Billies and nannies generally don’t mix. Mountain goats eat primarily sedges and grasses in the summer, and leaves and coniferous trees in the winter. In Nevada, there are herds that almost exclusively browse mountain mahogany during the winter months.

Mating occurs from November to early December with a gestation period of about six months. Birth generally takes place in late May and early June with one to two kids. Most nannies do not give birth until they are three years old and likely will not breed the following year after successfully weaning a kid. #NVWildlife

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