Desert Bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis nelsoni) live in the Basin and Range region. Their range is from Nevada and California to west Texas and south into Mexico. They like alpine meadows, grassy mountain slopes and foothills near rocky cliffs, generally avoiding dense vegetation which can block visibility . They typically live at elevations between 2,500 and 8500 feet.
Bighorn sheep weigh between 115-180 pounds and can live up to 15 years. Their fur is brown with whitish rump patches. They have large rumen, which allows them to select diets that optimize nutrient content from available forage.
Male sheep are called rams and have huge, brown horns that curl back over their ears and up towards their cheeks. Females are ewes, they are smaller than the rams and have smaller horns that curl back just slightly. During rutting season, in autumn and early winter, rams will snort loudly. Ewes give birth in spring, usually giving birth to 1-2 lambs--gestation is between 150-180 days. Bighorn sheep form herds, typically herds are fairly small, around 10 individuals, but sometimes they form herds as large as 100 individuals.
California Department of Fish and Wildlife, accessed 3-29-2015: http://www.dfg.ca.gov/wildlife/Bighorn/Desert/
Nevada Department of Wildlife, accessed 3-29-2015: http://www.ndow.org/Species/Furbearer/Desert_Bighorn_Sheep/
Desert USA: Bighorn Sheep, accessed 3-29-2012: http://www.desertusa.com/big.html
The photos below were taken 12/28/2014 off of Leonard Creek Rd in northwestern Nevada.
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