The Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) is a species of artiodactyl (even-toed, hoofed) mammal that lives in the interior western and central parts of North America. Even though it’s not an antelope, people in North America call it the American antelope, prong buck, pronghorn antelope, and prairie antelope.
This is because it looks like the Old World antelopes and fills the same ecological niche. It is the only member of the family Antilocapridae that is still alive. During the Pleistocene, about 11 other species of antilocaprid were in North America. Three other genera (Capromeryx, Stockoceros, and Tetrameryx) lived in North America before people got there, but they are no longer there.
The Pronghorn is a unique animal that lives in North America. Its Latin name, Antilocapra americana, means “American goat-antelope,” but it is neither a goat nor an antelope, and it is not related to the antelopes that live in Africa. The only living member of the family Antilocapridae, the Pronghorn, has been in North America for more than a million years.
The Pronghorn looks like a deer. It stands about 3 1/2 feet tall from shoulder to foot and weighs between 90 and 120 pounds. Its body is tan to rusty brown. It has white cheeks, a white belly, a rump, a chest, and inner legs. Males have a wide black mask that goes from their eyes down their snouts to their noses. They also have black patches on their necks and 12–20-inch-long black horns with points. The male’s horns are shaped like a lyre and curve in towards each other.
The female doesn’t have black spots, and her horns are usually straight, with short spikes that are 3 to 4 inches long. The Pronghorn doesn’t have antlers; it has horns. Its horns have a core made of bone and a sheath made of a stiff material that looks like hair. It’s the only animal with horns that branches out and the only one that loses its horns yearly. The outer sheath falls off every year in the fall and then grows back in the summer.
Pronghorns mate in late summer in the southern part of their range. They mate at the beginning of fall in the north of their range. Males will fight each other over females. A male can mate with more than one female. The female gives birth to one to two fawns in late May or early June.
When they are born, the fawns have almost no smell. This helps keep them safe from danger. For the first few days, they will stay hidden in the grass. Their mother will graze away from where she has hidden them so that she doesn’t draw predators to where they are. When the fawns are about a week old, they will join the herd. When they are three weeks old, they will start to graze. Even when they are only four days old, they can run faster than a person.
The fastest animal in the Western Hemisphere is the Pronghorn. It can run up to 60 miles per hour and 30–40 miles per hour for long distances. It can jump up to 20 feet in the air when it runs. The Pronghorn’s mouth is open when it runs so it can get more air.
The Pronghorn occupy open areas where there is nowhere for it to hide from a predator. It must be able to escape! The Pronghorn is busy during the day and night. It has great eyesight and can spot a threat up to four miles away. When the Pronghorn feels threatened, it can use its sharp hooves to fight back.
So, where do pronghorns live? The Pronghorn lives in the southeastern part of Oregon, the southern part of Idaho, the southern parts of Saskatchewan and Alberta in Canada, Montana, and the western parts of North Dakota from Arizona south to western Texas. Now, what is a pronghorn? The Pronghorn lives in deserts, grasslands, and brushlands. The number of Pronghorn in a herd changes from season to season.
During the summer, the females and their young will gather in groups of fewer than 12 people. Bachelor herds consist of young males who are less than two years old. Males that are ready to breed set up their own territories. In the winter, the herd consists of male and female pronghorns, and hundreds can be of them. The Pronghorn moves from one place to eat in the summer to another place to eat in the winter.
Pronghorns have some of the fastest feet of any animal in North America. They can run faster than 53 miles per hour, leaving coyotes and bobcats in the dust as they try to catch them. Pronghorns are also great at running long distances. They can go for miles at half that speed.
At the shoulder, a pronghorn is about three feet tall. They are a reddish brown color, but their stomachs are white, and their throats have wide white stripes. When startled, they are good at raising the hair on their rumps to show a white warning patch that can be seen for miles.
Pronghorn have special horns
Both males, as well as females have impressive horns that curve backward. The name of the species comes from the way the horns split into prongs that point forward. The horns of some animals are more than a foot long.
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What does Pronghorn eat?
Pronghorns chew the cud, which is their own partly digested food, just like other animals with even-toed hooves. This fast herbivore eats grass, sagebrush, and other types of plants most of the time.
In western North America’s open, dry lands, pronghorns mate in the fall. Bucks get harems of females and fiercely protect them, sometimes fighting rivals in dangerous and spectacular fights. In the spring, females have one or two babies that can run faster than a person after only a few days.
People hunt pronghorns in many of their natural ranges, but some subspecies face a threat of extinction.
Facts About Pronghorns
- Pronghorns are herbivores, which means they eat grass, sage, and other plants.
- They don’t drink much water and get their water from eating plants. On average, they live ten years.
- When a pronghorn is scared, the white hair on its behind stands up.
- Pronghorns live in groups called bands or herds.
- During the winter, groups of people of all ages and both sexes get together.
- During the summer, bucks are very territorial.
- Bucks get together with their harems and fight other bucks when it’s time to breed.
- At about 2 years old, in late September, they start to have babies.
- The temperature of their bodies is about 100 degrees F.
- The North American Pronghorn is the fastest land animal.
- Their average speed when running is 40 MPH, but they can run for long distances at speeds of up to 60 MPH.
- Pronghorns have 13 different ways to walk, and one of them can take them up to 20 feet per step.
- They have sharp, padded double hooves to protect them when they run on uneven or hard ground.
- The Pronghorn got its name from the way its horns point back and then prong.
- Both males and females have horns, but the horns of a buck are 12 to 16 inches long.
- Each year, the horns fall off, usually soon after mating.
- The hollow hair of pronghorns helps to keep them warm in the winter.
- They can reside in temperatures as low as -50 F and as high as 130 F.
- After 7-8 months, she gives birth to two grayish-brown fawns.
- A fawn can run faster than a person in less than two days after being born.
- Cougars, wolves, bobcats, coyotes, and eagles are all predators.
- You can hunt pronghorns in Montana if you have the right license and permit.
- Pronghorns are not in the same family as goats or antelopes.
- They have big, bulging eyes, the biggest of any ungulate in North America. These eyes let you see at 300 degrees.
- They can tell when something is moving up to 4 miles away.
- The prong horn is a good swimmer.
- They usually go under things, like fences, rather than over them.
- People think that there were once as many as 35 million pronghorns in North America. By 1915, that number had dropped to about 13,000. There are about 800,000 today.
- Antilocapra americana is the name for a prong horn in the scientific world.
- They are the only ones left in the family Antilocapridae.
- People also call pronghorns prongbuck, pronghorn antelope, and American antelope.
- Bucks are the male animals. Does are the name for females. Fawns are the name for babies.
- Pronghorns are tan and have white spots on their bottoms and rump.
- Bucks also have black spots on their faces and necks.
- Pronghorns are about 4 to 5 feet long from nose to tail, and their shoulders are about 3.5 feet high.
- They range in weight from 85 to 145 pounds. Most of the time, males are 10 percent bigger than females.
Where Are Pronghorns Found?
Only in North America will you discover Pronghorn. The southern Canadian border and northern Mexican border were part of their native habitat. Currently, the Great Plains, northeast California, southeast Oregon, Nevada, Wyoming, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, Montana, and New Mexico are the primary locations where Pronghorn can be found in the United States.
Why Is A Pronghorn Not An Antelope?
Pronghorns lose their horns once a year, whereas antelope keep theirs for the rest of their lives. Pronghorns are endemic to the North American continent. Most antelopes occur in Africa, but there are also tiny populations in the Middle East and Asia.
Can A Pronghorn Outrun A Cheetah?
The Pronghorn is the second-fastest terrestrial animal in the world, after only the cheetah (61 miles per hour in a sprint). The Pronghorn may not have the cheetah’s top-notch acceleration, but it can keep its momentum going for far longer.
Are Pronghorns In Canada?
Although pronghorns were historically distributed as far east as the boundary of the tall grass prairie in Manitoba, their current range is restricted to the country’s western mixed- and short-grass plains.
What Eats A Pronghorn?
Even though wolves, cougars, bears, and eagles are all potential predators of Pronghorn, coyotes are responsible for the deaths of the greatest number of Pronghorn, particularly in the northern region of Yellowstone National Park.
Why Do Pronghorn Have White Butts?
Pronghorns are so skittish because they are social animals that prefer to congregate in small groups on the plains. When threatened, they immediately run away while fluffing up (piloerection) the white hair on their behinds.
What Is Unique About A Pronghorn?
The Pronghorn is distinct in part because of its horns, which combine features of horns and antlers. Real antlers are made of bone and fall off annually, whereas real horns are constructed of compressed keratin that develops around a bony core and never falls off.
Can a Pronghorn jump?
The pronhorn is a species that thrives in open areas. Because they haven’t had to jump over anything taller than sagebrush in aeons, they usually slither under fencing when encountering it.
Why Are Pronghorns So Fast?
The Pronghorn originated at the same time as the fake cheetah and other fast carnivores. Thus the speed of the herbivores is evidence of a dash to the finish in an evolutionary arms race that ended about 10,000 years ago. The speed of pronghorns is now commonly thought to be due to Byers’ idea.
Where Do Pronghorns Go In Winter?
During the migration from their Canadian summer grounds to their Montana winter grounds, Pronghorn must travel almost 200 miles, making the removal of any barriers crucial to their survival.
What Are Baby Pronghorns Called?
The baby pronghorn is called a calf.
Are Pronghorn Smaller Than Deer?
Pronghorn are just about three feet tall at the shoulder, making them significantly shorter than a deer. Their rump, sides, bellies, and throats all feature distinctive white patches of fur. The male Pronghorn’s pronged horns can grow to be a foot long (thus the name), while the female’s straight horns are much shorter.
Is A Pronghorn A Goat?
One of the most distinctive mammals in the Americas is the Pronghorn. Even though it’s called “American goat-antelope” in Latin, the Antilocapra americana has nothing in common with African antelopes.
Are Pronghorns Going Extinct?
No, they are not. They fall under the Least concern category of IUCN.
What Is The Lifespan Of A Pronghorn Antelope?
Pronghorns have a maximum wild life expectancy of 12–14 years. However, this number is likely far lower. The swift-moving, wide-eyed Pronghorn is a common resident of the open grasslands.
Do Female Pronghorns Have Horns?
The horns of both the male & female Pronghorn are present, but the horns of the female are much smaller and more like bumps on the skull than anything else. These creatures get their name from the males’ horns, which can grow to be a foot or more in length and have a forked or pronged end.
How Many Pronghorns Are Left In The US?
The overall number of pronghorn antelope in the United States was only around 12,000 roughly 50 years ago. Now exceeding 1,100,000, pronghorn populations have grown thanks to habitat restoration and restocking initiatives.
What Do Pronghorns Eat In The Winter?
So, what does a pronghorn eat? In other words, pronghorns get their nutrition only from the plants they eat. They feed on grasses, cacti, and forbs in the summer and on sagebrush and other plants in the winter.
Do Pronghorn Shed Their Horns?
Both sexes often sport horns. However, females are typically smaller. In contrast to antlers, which are lost and regrow yearly, horns remain on the animal’s head permanently and continue to grow throughout its entire life. The Pronghorn is the only animal that regularly loses and regains its horn sheath.
What’s The Difference Between A Pronghorn And An Antelope?
Pronghorns lose their horns once a year, whereas antelope keep theirs for the rest of their lives. Pronghorns are endemic to the North American continent. Most antelopes are found in Africa, but there are also tiny populations in the Middle East and Asia.
Parvaiz Yousuf is a senior SEO writer and editor with an experience of over 6 years, who also doubles up as a researcher. With an MSc zoology degree under his belt and possessing complete Search Engine Optimization (SEO) knowledge, he works as a science journalist for a US-based website and Asian Scientist (A Singapore-based magazine). He also works as Director of Wetland Research Centre, Wildlife Conservation Fund YPJK since 2018. Besides, he has several publications to his name on cancer biology and biochemistry in some reputed journals such as Nature & International Journal of Molecular Sciences, & magazines such as Science Reporter, BUCEROS BNHS, and has an abiding interest in ornithology. He also worked as a Research Associate for JK Policy Institute.