Pronghorn Antelope Facts | Anatomy, Diet, Habitat, Behavior

The pronghorn antelope (Antilocapra americana) is a medium-size mammal that is typically found in the central and western North America. It is not really an antelope but the animal is referred to as the pronghorn antelope. Giraffes and okapi are the closest cousins of pronghorn. It is the fastest of the land mammals in the Western Hemisphere. There are around one million pronghorns living in the wild.

Pronghorn Antelope Facts

Anatomy

  • The adult pronghorns show reddish brown coat together with white fur that goes on the sides, bellies, and across the throats.
  • Pronghorn averages 1.3–1.5 m (4 ft 3 in–4 ft 11 in) in total length.
  • They are 81–104 cm (32–41 in) tall and weigh up to 40–65 kg (88–143 lb).
  • There are small prong-shaped horns that are facing forward. Males have 25 cm (9.8 in) long horns while females possess horns averaging 12 cm (4.7 inches).
  • Pronghorns have long slender legs that allow the animal to run extremely fast.
  • Females are less heavy than the males but both are of the same height.
  • Pronghorns are believed to have musky odor.
  • The eyes are large and are set on the upper part of the head to have wider view.
  • The mean body temperature of pronghorns is 38 °C (100 °F).
pronghorn antelope facts
Pronghorns ©chriscasephoto.photoshelter.com

Geographic Range

  • The pronghorn occurs throughout the United States including southern California, central Texas, and southwestern Minnesota. Pronghorn’s population is also found in Alberta, Canada.
  • The range extends to the northern Baja California Sur to as far as northern Mexico, and San Louis Potosi. Sonoran pronghorn is a subspecies of pronghorn and it is typically found in Mexico and Arizona.

Habitat

  • Pronghorns are most likely to prefer open terrains at an altitude of about 900 and 1,800 m (3,000 and 5,900 ft). They fancy living in areas that receive heavy rainfall of around 25–40 cm (9.8–15.7 in) every year.
  • Large gatherings of pronghorns move within 5.0–6.5 km (3.1–4.0 mi) of water.

Behavior

  • Pronghorns are migratory and they travel as much as 160 mi (260 km) ranging from Pioneer Mountains all the way to the Continental Divide.
  • They migrate in large herds consisting of about 300 – 400 individuals.
  • The top speed of pronghorns is 88.5 km/h but it lasts only for eight minutes however it can sustain a speed of about 56 km/h for many a mile. Pronghorns are sometimes considered to be one of the world’s fastest land mammals—second only to cheetah.
  • The pronghorn’s build is such that it cannot jump rather the animal is built for speed.
  • They are thought to cover 8 yards per stride.

Feeding Ecology & Diet

  • Pronghorns consume many plant species including those that are highly poisonous to other herbivorous land mammals.
  • Forbs make up much of the pronghorn’s diet in that it covers 62% while the shrubs 23% and finally grasses 15%. They also supplement their diet with cacti as well as ruminate cud (a food that pronghorns have previously partially digested).
pronghorn antelope facts
Adult male Pronghorn ©lpfw.org

Reproductive Biology

  • During winter, pronghorns form groups that consist of males and females both. However as the spring season arrives, (only) the bachelor males form their group in which no female is included. Similarly females begin living in their own group.
  • Adult pronghorns typically live a solitary life.
  • The most dominant in the female’s group will not allow female from other groups. She is likely to defend the feeding site rather actively.
  • The breeding season begins in mid-September.
  • The female pronghorn is called ‘doe’ while the young is known as ‘fawn’. She gives birth to twins.
  • Fawns weigh about 2–4 kg (4.4–8.8 lb). Young pronghorns continue to hide in vegetation for up to 3 – 4 weeks.
  • Young pronghorns spend 20 – 25 minutes each day with their mother. During this time the mother will teach her fawns not only to find food but also tricks to avoid predators.
  • Males wean earlier than females. They become mature when they are 15 – 16 months of age.
  • Females continue to mate for up to 21 days.
  • The gestation period lasts about 210 – 240 days.
  • Pronghorns are believed to live up to 10 – 15 years but the typical lifespan is 10 years.
  • Predators of pronghorns include coyotes, golden eagles, bobcats, wolves, and cougars.

Conservation Status

Least Concern

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