Animal Facts

Pronghorn Antelope

Introduction

Pronghorn antelope are small hoofed animals that live in the western United States and Canada. They are primarily found in areas that are usually very dry and without trees. They are the fastest land mammal in North America.

Pronghorn antelope have a mating system where the males have groups of females to mate with. Mating occurs in the fall. They only breed once a year. They are relatively long lived for wild animals.

Pronghorn antelope are herbivorous and feed mainly on plant material. They form large herds sometimes and then disperse at other times. They also have a lot of enemies and fairly large home ranges.

Characteristics

Pronghorn antelope are social animals and will form very large herds in the late fall and winter. In the spring they break into smaller groups until male antelopes gather females for mating. They only mate once a year in the fall usually September to October. When born the juveniles are hidden in dense vegetation to protect them from predators.

Adult male pronghorn antelope will form territories that can be over one square mile. They will aggressively defend these territories to keep other males from stealing their females. These territories are very widely spaced and do not overlap with one another.

Pronghorn antelope are able to communicate with a variety of methods. Adult females and juveniles will use visual, vocal, and scent cues to communicate when there is danger or the young ones need food.

Pronghorn antelope have specialized legs to help them run really fast. They can reach speeds over 40 miles per hour. They can also maintain these speeds for long distances. This allows them to escape enemies. They use their very excellent eye-sight to see enemies coming from far distances.

Appearance

Pronghorn antelope are barrel shaped. Their sides and backs range from dark to light brown. They have a black line on their sides that differentiates their white stomachs from their backs and sides. They also have white rears and throat patches. Their hoofs are black. Both male and female pronghorns have horns; however, the horns in the female are much smaller than those of the male. Their horns are black in color and form a prong at the top. This is how they get their name.

Life Stages

Pronghorn antelope have two life stages. The first life stage is the juvenile life stage. This stage begins when an adult female gives birth to one or two babies. The pregnancy period is 252 days on average. That’s a very long time! When they are first born they will feed from the mother and then hide nearby while the mother eats. In about three weeks, the juveniles will begin to eat on their own. They will become completely independent from the female in a year to year and half. Females reach the adult stage sooner than males. Females will enter the adult stage in 16 months and males may take as long as 24 months to reach the adult life stage. The adult life stage is the final life stage.

Life Span

Pronghorn antelope live longer in the wild than they do in captivity. In the wild, they live up to 16 years with an average of 10 years. Captive pronghorns only live up to n years. This is probably due to difficulty’ in properly feeding and caring for pronghorns in captivity.

Size

Male pronghorn antelopes are larger than females. Males average 38 inches high at the shoulder and females average 30 inches high at the shoulder. They weigh between 100 and 160 pounds and are over five feet long.

Habitat

Pronghorn antelope live in a wide range of habitats ranging from Canada to Mexico. One key feature in their habitat is a lack of tall trees. This helps them to see their enemies coming from far away and allows them plenty of time to escape. These areas are usually very dry and are usually grasslands, but they also utilize shrub, chaparral lands, and desert. One subspecies of pronghorn lives in the Sonora Desert in southwestern Arizona and Mexico. They are a very drought tolerant species and can obtain most of their water from their food.

Diet

Pronghorn antelope eat only plants. They will eat most plant material included stems, leaves, and shrubs. This is one reason that it is hard to keep them in captivity. They will choose plants with high water content in the summer, like cacti. They will eat tender leaves that have a lot of water content and then they do not have to drink water.

Friends and Enemies

Pronghorn antelope are very social animals. They are friendly with other pronghorns and will gather in large herds in the fall and winter. These herds are mixed of males and females and there can be more than 50 antelopes in a herd! They eat in large groups and keep an eye out for their enemies.

Pronghorn antelopes have enemies. Bobcats, coyotes, wolves, cougars, and golden eagles are all enemies of pronghorns. They will attack adult and young antelopes.

Suitability as Pets

Pronghorn antelopes are not suitable to keep as pets. They require a varied diet of plants that is not well understood by people. They also need to be with other pronghorns so they can socialize and be happy. If they don’t have large areas to run and exercise, they will die young. Even zoos and ranches have trouble taking care of these antelopes. All of these reason make them not suitable to have as pets.

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