Desert Bighorn Sheep
Ovis canadensis nelsoni • Mammals
The desert bighorn sheep’s body is compact and muscular with a short tail. Their brown fur is deer-like with coarse brittle outer hairs and white fleece underneath, with white rump patches. Rams have large curved horns, ewes smaller. Their eyes are wide-set and situated well forward on the head providing exceptional vision. They also have a keen sense of hearing and smell.
Bighorn sheep have a complex four-part stomach that enables them to eat large portions of grass rapidly before retreating to cliffs or ledges where they can thoroughly re-chew and digest their food, safe from predators. Then bacteria takes over, breaking down plant fibers for digestion. The sheep also absorb moisture during this digestive process, enabling them to go for long periods without water.
Bighorn sheep are well-equipped for climbing steep terrain that keeps them from predators. Rams and ewes travel in flocks separately, except during mating season where competition is fierce and age usually wins.
CALM currently has 5 bighorn sheep.