Talk about daredevil climbers, and you dare not ignore the mountain goat. Relentlessly bold and gravity-defying, the mountain goat is famed – if not notorious – for the frightful heights it can climb without falling. But why don’t mountain goats fall?
Mountain goats’ slim bodies make it easier to attain balance at altitude. The mountain goat’s hooves are its most potent climbing facility. Tough and rugged, these hooves are dually split, giving the goat an enhanced grip over larger rock surfaces when the hooves are spread. The padded bottoms of their hooves improve the goat’s traction. And in addition to their keen vision, the mountain goat’s back legs are furnished with two strong and suspended hooves that help to cushion a possible slip down a slope when climbing.
Do you know that a mountain goat can climb as high as 13,000 ft? What if the mountain goat falls when climbing? Does it die? Does a mountain goat get stuck at heights when it climbs?
How Do Mountain Goats Climb Without Falling?
Mountain goats belong to the elite category of animal climbers as the Ibex and baboons. Many facilities come together to give the mountain goat its remarkable capacity to climb high steeps and not fall.
Let us start with their eyesight. Mountain goats are rarely celebrated for their keen visions. They are sharp seers and can visually envisage details up on their path, even seeing up to a mile away.
Better informed of the topography of its path, the mountain goat is less likely to misstep, slide down, or altogether fall. Also, such sharp eyesight enables the mountain goat to map out the most efficient route to climb on its way up.
Moving on from the vision, mountain goats have pretty slim bodies. This is best appreciated when you view the mountain goat from above. This gives them a significant advantage in maneuvering over ledges and staying closer to rocks, altogether improving their aerial balance. Then come the wonder-hooves!
The mountain goat’s hooves comprise two segments that are spreadable. When spread, the mountain goat can hold on to a larger surface area, giving it a stronger grip.
The hooves are rugged too. They have soft pads that readily contour to the curvature of the mountain the goat climbs.
And to lessen the speed of descent, say the mountain goat missteps and is consequently sliding down, the mountain goat is furnished with a “speed breaker” in the form of two dewclaws. These dewclaws are stationed at the back of its legs.
Do Mountain Goats Get Stuck?
Yes, mountain goats can get stuck up at heights in some of their mountain climbing expeditions. But this is extremely rare because mountain goats don’t need to follow the same path up when climbing as they would when climbing down.
Being very inquisitive animals, mountain goats will explore whatever path can lead them down from the slope (or elevation) it climbed.
That said, these goats are intelligent and impressively acquainted with their terrain. This environmental acquaintance means they are most likely to find a way down when they climb.
Do Mountain Goats Fall a Lot?
While we have established the climbing proficiency of mountain goats, it is worth pointing out that they can fall off the heights they climb too.
What’s more, mountain goats are the least scared of height. They can climb intimidating peaks and yet show stunning composure when looking downwards.
Yes, you may want to know if the mountain goat can die if it falls. That would depend on the manner of its fall, and yes, the heights from which it falls.
Given the propensity of mountain goats to climb incredible heights, you will understand why sizable populations of these goats die from horrific falls. A bulk of these falls has been attributed to in-fighting among herds of mountain goats.
A prominent fraction of these scuffles – and consequent falls from heights – occur during the breeding season. This is a period of elevated fights between males for female mating partners.
When fighting, larger mountain goats can lift relatively smaller ones and hurl them in the air –often off the ledge, leading to harmful falls. There are also situations where a stronger mountain chases a weaker one around a cliff, causing one of them to stumble, trip, and fall off the ledge.
Kids also fall when they are led uphill by their parents. Often, a kid can go climbing with its mother within 48 hours after being born. No, the mother is not always that reckless.
At times, it would protect its kid from such unfortunate falls by strategically stationing herself under her kid as they climb up. This way, she can block the kid’s falls – when it tumbles – with her legs or preemptively prod the kid when it is about to make disastrous steps on their ascent.
Why Do Mountain Goats Climb So High?
Goats climb really high for many reasons. First, it could just be to quench its infamous thirst for adventure. It is well known that goats are curious animals with a penchant for exploration.
It could climb a mountain several feet to the top (braving all the hazards) just to see what is there on top. In more serious scenarios, a mountain goat can climb high when searching for befitting nourishment.
The search for forage often leads mountain goats really high. They can just be grazing and almost unconsciously climbing higher and higher while seeking fresher pasture.
Mountain goats would also climb high to keep them safe from prowling predators. A mountain goat can take its kid to remarkable heights – even above tree line – just to protect such kids from hunting carnivores.
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