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Dall Sheep

Additional Info

  • Order: Artiodactyla
  • Family: Bovidae
  • Subfamily: Caprinae
  • Genus: Ovis
  • Species: dalli
  • Members of the Family: Antelope, cattle, goats and sheep
  • Conservation Status: Dall sheep are not threatened or endangered. They are considered a species of least concern.
  • Geographic Range and Habitat: Dall sheep are found in the mountains of Western Canada and Alaska. Adult males can occupy six seasonal home ranges: pre-rutting, rutting, midwinter, late winter and spring, salt-lick, and summer (Bowyer and Leslie, 1992). Females usually have four ranges: winter, spring, lambing, and summer. Lambs inherit home ranges from older individuals and they return annually to these inherited ranges (Bowyer and Leslie, 1992).
  • Physical Description: They look very similar to big horn sheep, though Dall sheep are white all over their body. Like big horn sheep, mature Dall sheep males are easily identified by large horns that curl behind their heads. Females are smaller than males and have shorter, thinner horns that do not curl. Sub-adult males and females look very similar. Males are larger than females.
  • Weight: 117 to 280lbs (53 to 127 kg) in the wild.
  • Length: 60 to 70 in (150 to 180 mm)
  • Reproduction: Dall horn sheep breed once per year between July and December depending on their location. Most of the breeding occurs during the fall.
  • Gestation Period: 5 to 6 months
  • Number of Offspring: 1 to 2 lambs
  • Birth Weight: Approximately 9 lbs
  • Time to Weaning: 5 months average
  • Age at Sexual or Reproductive Maturity: 2.5 years average
  • Average Lifespan (Wild): Juveniles face high mortality –from 20-80%. 10.5 years average
  • Average Lifespan (Captivity): 10.5 years average
  • Social Habits: Males and females spend late winter, spring and summer in separate groups called bands. Within bands of females, young lambs will also band together while their mothers, or ewes are off grazing. Mature Dall sheep males are well known for ramming one another during the breeding season. This activity determines rank within a band of males, as they reach speeds of 20mph before smashing head-to-head.
  • Behavior: Dall sheep spend most of the day grazing. They can easily climb steep, rocky terrain and jump across spans of 20 feet. They are also able to swim.
  • Food Habits: Dall sheep graze on grasses, sedges and forbs when available, but also eat lichens and mosses in smaller quantities (Nichols and Bunnell, 1999). Wheatgrass, fescues, bluegrass, and sedges are important foods, while clover, peavine, lupines, pasture sage, dwarf willow, and cinquefoil are eaten when available (Blood, 1999).
  • Known Predators: Bears, wolves, coyotes, cougars, Canadian lynx, golden eagles, wolverines, and humans.
  • To Cite This Page: Gozdzik, A. 2001. "Ovis dalli" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed January 08, 2010 at http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Ovis_dalli.html.