Field Guide/Mammals/Pronghorn

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Antilocapra americana (Pronghorn)
Family: Antilocapridae[1]
Size: Average length overall: 4.5 feet (1415 mm), tail: 4 inches (105 mm). Heightto the shoulder: 2.6 feet (875 mm) Weight range: 88-154 pounds(40-70 kg) [2]
Description: Deer-like stature with medium body and very thin legs, reddish-brown fur on the back and creamy brown fur on the undersides, black mane, neck patch, and line between the horns distinguish males from females; females only have black near the nose. Two notable features of this species are white patches of fur on the buttocks and horns that resemble a prong.[1]
Similar Species: The Sonoran Pronghorn lives in the southern United States and Northern Mexico has similar appearance but is built to withstand warmer temperatures, scarcity of water, and exposure to solar radiation.[1]

Range: Found in North America from southern Canada, through western United States, and as far south as northern Mexico, recorded to range as far east as western Minnesota but are more dense in neighboring states to the west: North and South Dakota, Nebraska, Montana, and Wyoming.[1]
Habitat: Pronghorn live in grassland, shrub land, or desert areas, require a fresh water source for drinking or eat foods high in moisture. During winter months the pronghorn will establish themselves in areas that are exposed to winds that will help keep vegetation free of snow coverage. Pronghorn share grazing areas with sheep and cattle and over grazing is a risk.[1]
Diet: Feed solely on vegetation ranging from grasses, leaves, stems, and shrubs preferably with high water content, consumption of cacti for both food and water benefits is common.[1]
Activity: Diurnal and nocturnal, migration is determined based on the location an season. In winter months the species will form herds and migrate to areas of lesser snow cover to find food if they are in a regions that get snow whereas in spring they disperse.[1]

Reproduction: From March to the beginning of October pronghorns are within their rut and will attract females with scents they emit. The male species will mate with more than one female in a single breeding season. Males will protect a territory that consists of numerous females and will fight to try and steal other females. Breeding takes place between September and October. On average females will have 2 offspring per season and will look after them for 1 to 1.5 years the young will start mating at the age of 3.[1]
Lifespan: 16 years in the wild, 12 years in captivity.[1]

Notes: The pronghorn species ranks among the top of land mammals in the Western Hemisphere in terms of migration distance. The longest of which are the pronghorns located in southern Idaho, they have a migration route that tops 160 miles round trip. With a sprinting speed of 60 miles per hour the pronghorn also reigns as the fastest known animal in the Western Hemisphere. Pronghorn also hold economic significance, as they are hunted as a popular big game animal. They provide food as well a source of recreation for hunters which is seen as a positive impact which offsets some of the negative impact. If the winters are harsh and no food is readily available, pronghorn will feed on local farmers crops instead of their usual diet items of grass and sage. To bring that economic impact elsewhere, in 1959 a group of pronghorn were brought to Hawaii and introduced into the wild. However, less than 30 years after they were introduced the population was diminished to less than 12 by 1983.[1][3]

  1. a b c d e f g h i j Krejci, Kandace; Dewey, Tanya (2009), "Antilocapra americana", Animal Diversity Web,, retrieved October 11, 2012 
  2. O'Gara, Bart (1978), "Antilocapra americana", Mammalian Species (90): 1–7,, retrieved October 4, 2012 
  3. O’Sullivan, Tess (2009), New Long Distance Migration Route for Pronghorn Found in Idaho by WCS and Lava Lake Institute,, retrieved October 11, 2012