Mountain Goats live on remarkably steep, craggy cliffs for most of their lives, spending only about a quarter of their time in less forbidding meadows and nearby fields. The steep slopes offer safety from predators such as mountain lions and grizzly bears. The Goats eat vegetation that grows in small pockets of earth that collect among the rocks. Even when migrating to lower elevations during winter, the Goats stay on steep slopes above the timberline. There, high winds scour snow from the rocks, exposing food for forage. Special adaptations enable Mountain Goats to navigate rock faces. They have powerful forelimbs that help them climb or brake, and hooves that can spread to brake or squeeze like pincers to grasp irregularly shaped rock. They also have textured foot pads that give them extra traction. Their high-altitude habitat is harsh, and juvenile mortality is high. Goats that survive to adulthood tend not to live beyond 10 years.
Links:Mammal Species of the WorldClick here for The American Society of Mammalogists species account
Original description: De Blainville, Henri-Marie Ducrotay, 1816. Bulletin des Sciences par la Société de Philomathique de Paris, Impression de Plassan, Paris, p. 80.