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Mammal Species of the World's Boreal Forests

BIRDS

   
Ovis dalli
Dall's Sheep

Description

Distinguishing Features - Height: averaging 90 cm. to shoulder. Weight: Male 80 - 100 kg., Female 40 - 60 kg. Color: White usually, may vary from yellowish white to snow white. Known for their magnificent curling horns. The horns of the dall sheep take eight years to reach full size. Females have shorter, more slender horns. The horns are made out of keratin, the same substance as our fingernails.

Dall's Sheep Habitat

Northern regions of the globe both Arctic and Subarctic. In Alaska, the Yukon and Northwest Territories; infrequent in northwestern British Columbia. In summer, rough terrain, alpine slopes; in winter, low, dry, south-facing slopes.

Diet

Primarily grases, sedges, lichens, moss and willow

Notes

Dall sheep have hollow hair which insulates their body. They also like the south-facing slopes because they get more sun.

Males only fight before breeding season to gain dominance over all the males. They begin fighting when they reach maturity at about seven to nine years. The size of his horns determine his place in the ram hierarchy. The bigger the horns the older the sheep is. The horns stop growing in the winter. Because of this stoppage of growing growth rings or "annuli" occur. You can identify how old a sheep is by the number of "growth rings" that his horns have. Ram horns reach half a circle in about three years, 3/4 of a circle in about five years, and a full circle or "curl" in seven to eight years. As with trees, to tell how old a sheep is just count the growth rings.



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