Have you ever heard of the chamois? I hadn’t until I started doing research for this blog post. The chamois is a goat-antelope species native across Europe, although they are more abundant in the South than they are in the North, but are spread evenly from East to West. Their preferred habitat is rocky and mountainous regions, with some chamois living at elevations well over 10,000 feet. They move further down the mountains during the winter to stay out of snowy areas with no food. Some chamois have also been introduced to New Zealand in 1907, as a gift from the Austrian Emperor. Sadly, hunting is not restricted in New Zealand, as the chamois is considered an invasive species. In Europe, however, the chamois is protected by the European Union in some areas.
The chamois is very small. Fully grown, they stand about four feet high at the shoulder, with the largest getting closer to five feet. Adult chamois usually weigh about 110 pounds. The chamois in New Zealand tend to be smaller, due to sparser vegetation. Both males and females have horns, though the horns of the males are larger. The chamois is one of the animals who changes color based on the season. During the winter, the chamois is a rich red-brown color, and in winter, their fur turns grayish or white.
Chamois are very quick and agile animals. They have pads on their hooves which helps them grip slick rocky surfaces and can run up to 30 miles per hour, even across uneven ground. They can jump six feet vertically and nearly 20 feet horizontally.
Male chamois are solitary animals and only gather in groups during the mating season. Throughout the whole year, female chamois live in small herds of about 20 individuals, and the young chamois live in these herds, too. It is most common for mothers to have just one baby, though having twins has also been observed. Young chamois are totally dependent on their mothers for the first six months. It usually takes about a year for them to be independent, however. Once they reach maturity, females stay with the group, and males are pushed out, usually when they are about two or three years old. The young males live on their own.
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