Sonntag, 20. Mai 2012

The Chamois

Female Chamois.

Chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) are very amazing animals. They don’t only look cute but like the ibex the chamois can climb cliffy rocks, too. It isn’t hard to tell males from females apart, especially if you have the horns or the skulls in your hands. And given the know-how you can find out the age of the chamois, too. Please read more behind the cut.

Unlike the deer the chamois will not chip their horns every year. The horns stay on the head for their whole life and will grow every year. The chamois has its biggest horn growth in its first three years of life. If you look closely you will see “annual rings” but don’t mistake them with the “jewel” rings. People often falsely count those rings as annual rings and so they guess the age totally wrong. It’s not that easy…

Annual ring on the horns of a very young male. He was a bit more than one year old.

Chamois will be born in the month of June. The fawns have some small horns but the horn itself will start to grow fast after their first winter and it will stop growing next autumn. Therefore between each growth phase the horn generates some additional annual rings. The horn often grows batch-wise, creating some small humps in the process. So, how to tell those rings apart? If you know how long a horn can grow each year in life you are on a good way to discover the real annual rings. See the picture below.

Horns of a six years old male. You don't see his first annual ring anymore.
If you have a skull without horns or just the lower jaw in your hands you can look on its teeth to find out the age. However this is often not as exact as the horn analysis method. If the skull/jaws don’t have any baby teeth the chamois will be four years old or older. If the teeth look outworn the chamois probably is more than ten years old!

Male? Female? I think it was a male (thick horns)
No baby teeth anymore and no outworn teeth, too. Maybe five years old?
To find out the gender of a chamois you have to take a look on its horns as well because both males and females have horns. But it isn’t that hard to differ, because the horns of the female aren’t as thick as a males and the horns of the male look rounded, like an umbrella handle.

The young male again. Typically thick and rounded horns.
Of course, this information will not help a lot if you are watching a group of moving chamois in the wild, but if you are in a zoo or in a museum with stuffed chamois you will impress your friends if you can tell for each animal if it was a male or a female and how old it was. ;)

Cute, eh? <3

Keine Kommentare:

Kommentar veröffentlichen