Ten Things You Don’t Know About: Pronghorn Antelope

Following my post from a couple of days ago… here are a few things you might not know about my favorite Wyoming animal.

  1. Antilocapra americana, locally known as pronghorn, are not really antelope, nor are they “goats”, or “speedgoats” as their nicknames imply.  They are their own critter.  Their closest relatives are actually giraffes and okapi, THEN the deer and goat families.  Other antilocapra used to exist in North America, but became extinct during the Pleistocene period.
  2. They are the second fastest land mammal behind the cheetah.  Clocked at 55 mph, they can sure kick up the dust when necessary!  They can hold 30 mph for long distances.  They have been observed to have 13 distinct gaits, one that reaches nearly 8 yards per stride!  Experts believe they evolved to escape a now extinct form of cheetah as they easily outrun modern predators.
  3. Bucks have flat horns made of hair around a bony base that are grown and shed yearly.  World record length is 17″ and 19″ (a tie between two different animals, where scoring comes from the measurement of other factors), though most mature bucks will average in the 13″-14″ range.  Does, on occasion, will also grow tiny horns about 1″-3″ long.
  4. Bucks also have black blazes along the front of their faces and a black cheek patch.  The cheek patch overlays a scent gland that they rub on sagebrush and other places.
  5. Their tan and white hair is hollow, providing an extra layer of insulation during prairie winters that can see winters with wind chills of -40˚ or more.  It does not make for a good tanned hide as the hair is brittle and sheds easily.
  6. Antelope eyes are set high and provide them with a 320˚ range of view.  Sneaking up on antelope is difficult, they are usually looking at you before you spot them!
  7. The white hair on their rump can be raised when alarmed, a great bright warning sign easily seen by other antelope. They also will snort at you in alarm… which sounds quite similar to blowing through a comb with wax paper on it! (Anyone else make your own kazoos that way???)
  8. The mixed sex winter herds can number in the hundreds to thousands. In the spring, bachelor bands form as the females go off singly to have their fawns in late May or early June. Gestation for does is 8 months, longer than deer. Twins are not unusual.  Migration occurs in some areas while other herds are permanent residents in their range.
  9. Newborn fawns weigh only 6-9 pounds at birth and one of their main predators are golden eagles.  Within a couple of hours, newborns can outrun humans!
  10. Most sites that I researched for this, continue to falsely state that antelope can’t jump fences and will only go under them.  While I believe that they prefer to go under a fence (quite quickly, I might add), I have seen them jump fences just like deer.  It is not rare or unusual in this part of the country to see them jump.
  11. I had to include my favorite quote from Lewis and Clark, the first recorded descriptions of antelope: “Of all the animals we have seen the Antelope seems to possess the most wonderful fleetness.  Shy and timorous they generally repose only on the ridges, which command a view of all the approaches of an enemy… When they first see the hunters they run with great velocity…”  They also described them as “verry actively made”!



Ten Things You Don’t Know About: Pronghorn Antelope — 6 Comments

  1. Thanks for this information Carol. Nothing like them in Middle England, though I’m not sure what animals are at the West Midland Safari Park. Much better to see them in their natural environment.

  2. Around here thats all you see. DJ says at work they see large deer all the time but here its only antelope. If they are so fast why do we (not me, I’ve hit my fair share of deer tho) hit so many?

    • Kelse, that’s gotta be a math story problem… If the vehicle is traveling at 65 mph and the antelope is crossing at 45 mph, how far apart do they have to be before you call your insurance agent????? 😉

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