Critter of the Week: Himalayon Tahr




Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Artiodactyla

Family: Bovidae

Subfamily: Caprinae

Genus: Hemitragus

Species: H. Jemalahicus

Binomial Name: Hemitragus Jemlahicus




The Himalayan tahr is a large goat-like mammal that is native to parts of the Himalayas; however, it has been introduced to other areas such as Argentina and the United States. Their horns reach a maximum length of 18 inches, with the males weighing 160 pounds and females weighing half of the males’ weight. The closest living relatives to the Himalayan tahr are sheep and goats. 





The Himalayan tahr has a dense, woolly coat with a thick undercoat to keep warm during the cold winters. However, its coat will lighten in color and become thinner during the warmer seasons. The Himalayan tahr have also developed the unique ability to grasp onto both smooth and rough surfaces on the mountainous terrain using their even-toed hooves with rubbery cores. Other mammals with even-toed hooves are giraffes, deer, llamas, etc. 





The Himalayan tahr is active in the morning and late afternoon, as it takes a short break in the middle of the day to rest between rocks and vegetation. Being a herbivore, it spends most of its time grazing on grasses, leaves, and fruit. Their short legs let them easily balance while reaching for the leaves of trees and shrubs. Similar to cows, the Himalayan tahr has a multi-chambered stomach allowing them to get nutrients from the hard-to-digest plants. 


Himalayan tahrs usually live in mixed herds of about 15 members. They are able to survive so well as an invasive species relocating to different countries due to several factors. First, they are mobile throughout the day, which allows them to avoid predators and find food. Their digestive system also gives them the ability to digest a wide variety of food. Plus, there are no natural predators in the areas they have moved to. 


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Himalayan tahr females will have multiple mates making male competition high. Successful Himalayan tahr males usually have a lighter colored coat, and a large mane and horns. If outward superiority doesn’t deter rival males, the tahrs will wrestle with their horns. Usually females will only have one baby after about seven months of pregnancy. The babies can stand up and move around shortly after birth and depend on their mother’s milk for six months.