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Animal Database
Argali
Argal
Scientific Classification
Kingdom Animalia
Phylum Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Artiodactyla
Family Bovidae
Genus Ovis
Species Ovis ammon
Conservation Status
NTSpecies
Near Threatened

The argali, or the mountain sheep (species Ovis ammon) is a wild sheep species that roams the mountainous highlands of Central Asia and South Asia (within Himalaya, Tibet, and the Altai mountains).

Appearance[]

The name 'argali' is the Mongolian word for wild sheep. It is the largest species of wild sheep. The North American bighorn sheep may approach comparable weights but is normally considerably outsized by the argali. Argali stand 85 to 135 cm (3 to 4 ft) high at the shoulder and measure 136 to 200 cm (4 to 7 ft) long from the head to the base of the tail. The female, or ewe is the smaller sex by a considerable margin, sometimes weighing less than half as much as the male, or ram. The ewes can weigh from 43.2 to 100 kg (95 to 220 lb) and the rams typically from 97 to 328 kg (214 to 723 lb), with a maximum reported mass of 356 kg (785 lb). The Pamir argali (also called Marco Polo sheep, for they were first described by that traveler), O. a. polii, is the largest race on average, regularly measuring more than 180 cm (5 ft 11 in) long without the tail, and is less sexually dimorphic in body mass than most other subspecies. The argali has relatively the shortest tail of any wild goat-antelope or sheep, with reported tail lengths of 9.5–17 cm (3.7–6.7 in).

The general coloration varies between each animal, from a light yellow to a reddish-brown to a dark grey-brown. Argali from the Himalayas are usually relatively dark, whereas those from Russian ranges are often relatively pale. In summertime, the coat is often lightly spotted with a salt-and-pepper pattern. The back is darker than the sides, which gradually lighten in color. The face, tail and the buttocks are yellowish-white. The male has a whitish neck ruff and a dorsal crest and is usually slightly darker in color than the female. Males have two large corkscrew shaped horns, some measuring 190 cm (6 ft 3 in) in total length and weighing up to 23 kg (51 lb). Males use their horns for competing with one another. Females also carry horns, but they are much smaller, usually measuring less than 50 cm (20 in) in total length.

Behavior[]

With relatively long legs, argalis are fast runners and can easily flee from predators, although refuge is often taken on steep mountain slopes. The primary vocalizations are an alarm whistle and a warning hiss made by blowing air through the nostrils. When competing, males rear up on their hind legs and, leaning forward, race towards their opponent, crashing horns in the process.

Diet[]

Adult argali eat 16–19 kg (35–42 lb) of food a day. The vegetation preferred by the species varies based on elevation and area. In higher elevations, they predominantly eat grasses, sedges, and forbs.

Lifespan[]

Most argali live five to 10 years, but are capable of living 13 years in the wild.

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