Think About It Thursday: Why Are Mountain Goats Such Great Climbers?


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Mountain goats, actually more related to an antelope than true goats, climb the very steep and rocky slopes to feed on any grass, shrub or tree they can find. Although they are very powerful, they are agile at the same time, being able to jump more than 4 meters. They prefer slippery slopes and rocks to lower elevations, where they are much more likely to be hunted by a predator. Mountain goats spend almost their entire lives roaming treacherous peaks and rock faces.

So what makes these mountain goats such great climbers? They have slim bodies that let them shimmy over ledges and squeeze close to rocks. Their hooves are split into two sections, allowing them to spread the halves to grip a larger rock surface. The bottoms of their hooves have rubbery pads, like shoe soles. The pads provided the goats with even more traction. They also have two stubby “dewclaws” on the backs of their legs they can use for gripping and slowing if they slide down a slope. Not only do the hooves provide mountain goats with fantastic climbing ability but their keen eyesight can spot the best climbing routes and also see movement up to a mile away.  Nevertheless, one of the main causes of death of these mountain dwellers are falling accidents.

Check out this video of a human rock climber vs. mountain goat climbers!