Mountain Goats in
Glacier National Park
Mountain goats are not really goats—they are however, close relatives. They are widely known as the goat-antelopes.
These surefooted beasts can be found in higher alpine areas of North America. They often appear at higher elavations, showing off their climbing abilities from Alaska to the U.S. Rocky Mountains, leaving other animals, including us humans, far below. Mountain goats have cloven hooves with two toes that spread wide to improve balance. Rough pads on the bottom of each toe provide the grip of a natural climbing shoe. Mountain goats are powerful but nimble and can jump nearly 12 feet (3.5 meters) in a single bound.
Mountain goats have distinctive beards and long, warm coats to protect them from the bitter cold temperatures and gusting mountain winds. Their distinctive white coats provide amazing camouflage on the high snowy cliffs. Getting ready for the summer season mountain goats shed their coats, giving them a shaggy tattered look in spring.
Female goats (called nannies) spend much of the year with their young (called kids) in the safe compound of the herds. These groups may include as many as 20 animals. Males (known as billies) usually live alone or with one or two other male goats. Both sexes boast beautiful pointed horns, and in mating season billies will sometimes use them to battle rivals for prospective mates.
In the spring, a nanny goat gives birth to one kid (sometimes two), which must be on its feet within minutes of arrival into its sparse mountain world. Mountain goats eat plants, grasses, mosses, and other alpine vegetation.