Hooved Mammals

Bighorn sheepBighorn sheep

Our hoofed mammals are all large herbivores. They can conveniently be divided into two families: the cattle family containing mountain goats and bighorn sheep; the deer family containing elk, mule deer, white-tailed deer, moose, and caribou. In both families, the male is generally larger and bears either horns or antlers.

The horns of the cattle family are a hard permanent outgrowth of a core of bone encased in keratinized skin. Among bighorn sheep, the female also grows horns, but they are small and they don’t bend around to form a half circle as they do in the male.

The antlers of the deer family differ greatly from the horns of the cattle family. Antlers are shed annually; they have multiple branches, they are not covered with keratin, but vascular skin called velvet.

There are an even number of toes on the hooves: two for the cattle family; four for the deer family. However, the four toes of the latter are composed of two large toes and two set farther back and called dewclaws.

   mountain goats
   bighorn sheep
   mule deer

   white-tailed deer
   mountain caribou

Fraser tartan