|The barbary sheep, a plant eater, lives in small
but sociable family group. Despite its name, this animal actually belongs
to a middle genus between sheep and goats. The barbary sheep, a swift,
nibble climber, likes in the hills and mountains ranges of North Africa
and the Sahara. Both male and female barbary sheep have large, curving
horns and manes of long, soft hair on the throat, chest, and forelegs.
Habits: Most of the year, the barbary sheep's live-in a small family group of one male with one or two females and young from several litters. At the end of the dry season, many groups amy form a large herd, feeding and resting together for a short period. The day active barbary sheep feeds in the cool early morning and late afternoon. During the hottest daytime hours it rests in shady places under overhanging rocks or small caves in rock face.
Throughout the day, the Barbary sheep grooms its coat, scratching the fur with its horns or hooves and rubbing against rocks or low tree branches. The sheep likes to wallow in damp sand to keep its coat clean and free of parasites. First it rolls in the sand to cover its flanks and underside, and then it uses it hooves to scatter the damp sand over it back. The barbary sheep adeptly climbs rocky mountain ranges and desert hills. When danger threatens it in mountainous regions, it climbs into the rocks and hides. In sandy desert regions, the barbary sheep stands still, it shady brown coat blending into the scenery. Its well developed senses of sight, hearing and smell help the barbary sheep to detect predators and their locations. If threatened, a barbary sheep can remain motionless, balancing on a rock face.
Breeding: The barbary sheep mates from October to November. the male, fiercely chasing away rivals, chooses a female and follow s her for days until she is ready to mate. After 150 to 165 days, up to three lambs are born, each weighing two to six pounds. They stay differ with the female for two to three days until they return to the family group. The female suckles the lambs for three months; they reach maturity at 18 months. Young lambs are born in late spring to coincide with plentiful food supplies. the sheep rest during the day, feeding only in the cool morning and evening.
Food & Feeding: Barbary sheep feed in the early morning and at dusk, often moving from high rocky areas to nearby plains. They feed in a group, staying alert for predators. Barbary sheep mainly eat grass and low growing plants. They stand on their hind legs to nibble leaves, twigs, and young shoots of shrubs and trees. The sheep drink water at available water holes but rely mainly on dew and moisture in their food.
Related Species: The only member of its
genus. Its closest relative is the blue sheep, Pseudois nayaur, from Tibet
and easter China.
Features of the Barbary Sheep:
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