Sunday, July 25, 2010

Dwarf Blue Sheep

Dwarf Blue Sheep - Pseudois schaeferi - China

The Dwarf Blue Sheep or Dwarf Bharal Pseudois schaeferi is an endangered species of caprid found in China Proper and Tibet.

Physical Characteristics
Head and body length: 109-160 cm
Shoulder height: 50-80 cm
Tail length: 7-17 cm
Adult weight: 17-40 kg (females); 28-39 , up to 65 kg (males)

Less sexual dimorphism occurs in this species. Its coat is a steely grey with a silvery sheen, with darker general colorizations, and the horns of the male are smaller, thinner and more upright, with no inward curl. The horns may grow to 41 cm in length in males.

Behavior and Habitat
Family group: Small herds of 2 to 15 (usually between 4 and 6) of varying sexes and ages.
Diet: Mostly grasses, sometimes leaves and mosses.
Main Predators: Wolf, dhole, leopard, large raptors.

It lives mostly on rocky slopes generally at very high altitudes, such as between 8500 and 9500 feet above sea level. The dwarf blue lives in dry areas, valleys in the mountains

The dwarf blue lives mostly on grasses but also other plants such as club moss.
It performs alternative activities through the day, going from sleep to graze and back to sleep over the course of the day.
Usually very steep grassy slopes, and dwells in groups of sheep. Usually they live in groups of about six, however in the past when they were more plentiful they lived in family groups of 10-30 individuals.

Technically the dwarf blue sheep is equidistant between a sheep and a goat.

The population in the wild is estimated to be between 200 and 300 animals, although they are making progress.

Reproduction and Development
Gestation period: 160 days.
Weaning: At 6 months.
Sexual maturity: At 1.5 years.

The breeding season occurs between mid-November and mid-December. After a pregnancy that lasts almost six months, babies are usually born between late May and late June.
The Dwarf blue sheep reaches maturity about 1-2 years old, although the males don’t normally mate until they reach peak size, about 7 years old.
They give birth to one, or very rarely two infants. The young nurse for about six months, but after three months grazing as well. They are weaned fully about 6 months old.

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