Animals that live in Mountains
It has mostly black feathers, with white flight feathers on its wing. Head feathers would get dirty when they ate, so their heads and necks are naked like most vultures. The skin on the head and throat hang in lose folds, and is reddish-black, with a fleshy wattle over the beak, called a caruncle. Condors can soar to altitudes of 18,000 feet, and to keep their heads warm at that height they tuck them into a downy, white neck ruff.
Condors can live up to 50 years, and mate for life. The female will lay her egg on a cliff ledge. Because there aren't any trees or other materials to build a nest with where they live they lay their egg on bare rock. Both parents take turns incubating the egg. They have one chick every other year. Their young take a lot of time and effort to raised. They can't fly until they are 6 months old and then rely on their parents for two more years.
Andean condors roost on the face of a cliff, and use the thermal updraft of warm morning air to lift off. They spend most of the day soaring on the updrafts created by the mountains and valleys. They cover a large area while foraging. Andean condors can be found over the coasts of Peru and Chile, and the Patagonian steppe of Argentina. They can spot a carcass from several miles off. Usually they follow smaller scavenger birds to find a carcass. This helps both scavengers, because only the condor can tear through the tough hides of some carcasses. The older condors get to eat first, and then the younger ones take turns in order of age. Condors feed mostly on the remains of mammals such as sheep, llama, vicuna, cattle, seals and the eggs of seabirds. Sometimes they will take newborn animals.
The Andean condor has a long life, but breeds very slowly. It takes them 6 to 8 years before they become mature. Any interference from humans quickly disturbs their pattern of breeding. Hunters kill the condor for sport, and farmers kill them because they think condors kill their animals. Because they mate for life, the death of a mate is very hard on the other partner and their chick. Condors have also died recently from pesticides that have been carried through the food chains. The number of Andean condors has gone down rapidly in recent years, but they still aren't on the official endangered list. Rescue attempts have been made through breeding captive condors and habitat research. These efforts have been moderately successful.
Their tails have long gray and black hairs on the dorsal or back surface. The chinchilla stands about an inch from the ground when on its four feet, and it is about half the size of a rabbit.
Unlike other hoofed animals, camels and llamas have feet with 2 toes. The bottom part of the foot is divided in 2 and is covered by a tough leathery sole. Llamas are especially sure-footed. Because of these pads, they have a good foothold on rocky and slippery ground.
Llamas have unique blood that adapts well to the poor oxygen in the high altitudes where they live. Llamas have more red blood cells per unit volume of blood than any other mammal. The hemoglobin, which is the oxygen carrying substance of the cell, reacts faster with oxygen.
Also, llamas are able to travel long distances without water. They have 3 stomach compartments and they chew their cud. Cud is a mouthful of swallowed food that is regurgitated from the first stomach. Because of these special features the llama makes an excellent packing animal for the people that live in the remote areas of the Andes Mountains.
A female llama begins to breed when she's about a 1 year old. She's able to have 1 baby, or cria, a year until she's about 15 years old. Llamas can be bred at any time of the year. They don't have a heat cycle; they are what are called induced ovulators. This means ovulation happens 24-36 hours after breeding. She almost always gives birth to 1 baby at a time. A baby llama weighs 18 to 33 pounds when it's born. It's able to stand up on it's own one hour after it's born. The mother nurses the baby llama for 6 months. Male llamas are not used for breeding until they are about 2-3 years old.
Llamas were first domesticated by the Incas around 4,000 BC near Lake Titicaca. Their breeding was controlled by the government. The llamas were used in many ways. Male llamas were used as sacrifices. The wool from the llama was used to make coarse woolen blankets for the common people, and their meat was eaten. They were also used as beasts of burden. Llama caravans went to distant provinces to trade. They were so important to the prosperity of the Incas that llama herders were paid very well. After the Spanish conquistadors came in the 1500's, diseases killed many people as well as llamas. But the llamas were still valuable beasts of burden for several centuries and were called the "ships of the Andes".
Llamas are social animals and mainly live in herds in captivity. Most people who have llamas almost always keep the male and female in separate enclosures. This keeps the llamas from fighting and controls breeding. Young male llamas join the male herd at about a year old. In a group of male llamas, they fight each other to determine which one will be the leader of the herd. Most of the time the strongest and largest male llama will lead. The group is called a herd. The average life span of a llama is 15-20 years.
Llamas eat mainly grass, shrubs, and lichens. Lichens are moss-like plants that grow on rocks and wood. Llamas are herbivores, which means they are plant eaters. They chew their food just a little and swallow it, then bring up a wad of cud. They then finish chewing it and swallow it again and finally, digest it. Cud is partly digested food. Llamas eat mainly hay, grass, and grain when in captivity. For treats, llamas like cut-up apples, carrots, broccoli, and orange peels. Because the llamas have 3 stomach compartments, the food must pass through all the stomachs during digestion.
Enemies of the llamas are mountain lions, snow leopards, cougars, and also humans. Humans used to hunt them for their wool and meat. Most llamas now are kept in captivity, so they are protected from most predators. If they are attacked, the male llamas sound off a warning so that the rest of the herd can run away. Since llamas are herbivores, they don't prey on other animals.
There are many llamas in the world today. They are not an endangered species. They used to be hunted for their wool but there are now laws to protect them. Llamas are not found in the wild anymore. They are in family herds and they live in captivity.
The lower teeth of the vicuņa grow constantly, like a rodent's, so they can eat the tough grasses. The vicuņa also walks on the soles of its feet so it can flex its toes and grab on to the rocks and gravel-covered slopes. Vicuņa milk is very rich so the babies grow quickly.
Vicuņas weigh between 75-140 pounds. They are about 4-6 feet long and stand 2-3 1/2 feet at the shoulders. They have very long necks, round heads, and large, forward facing eyes. Their ears are long and pointed and stand up on their heads. Their fur is a rust color, with white around the muzzle,the chest, belly, and the insides of the legs. The white hair on their chests is longer than their other hair.
Vicuņas graze mostly on grasses. Their teeth are large and grow constantly like those of a rodent. They chew their cud when resting getting more nutrients out of the nutrient poor grass.
Vicuņas are very shy animals and run away fery quickly. They have two territories that they defend from other herds; a feeding territory or about 45 acres, and a smaller sleeping area on higher ground where they are more protected. The vicuņa live in herds of 5-10 members, which includes one dominant male and several females and their young. They mate in March and April and their young are born 11 months later. The young stay with their mother and the herd for another 10 months, when they are driven off by the herd. Young males will form bachelor groups and the young females try to find another group to join. This ensures that the herd stays the same size, which is important with their limited food supply.
The vicuņa was almost hunted to extinction for its beautiful soft wool. The Incas used to round up the wild vicuņas and pen them in stone corrals, where they were sheared for their wool. In modern times they were almost wiped out for their meat and wool. By 1960 there were only 6,000 vicuņas left in the wild. Chile and Peru established protected national parks and put a halt to trade in vicuņa wool. Now there are about 125,000 vicuņas, but they are still listed as threatened. The vicuņa is classified as vulnerable by the IUCN, and as endangered by the USDI.
Mountain Goat -
Their legs are about 20 inches long. Their hooves are adapted to the rugged slopes by being flexible, like rubber, so they can jump from rock to rock. Their coloring is white and their fur is very fluffy and every strand of hair is about 2 inches long. The Mountain Goat has eight teeth in front so it can easily grab big patches of grass.
The Mountain Goat breeds yearly between November and January. Gestation periods last at least 150 to 180 days and the babies are usually born in the spring. This is a beneficial time for the goat's babies, or kids, to be born because it is easier to survive in the warmer weather. Also, there is more food in the summer which the mother can make milk from. When she is ready to give birth, the mother hides in the cliffs in her home territory so that she is safe from predators. The kids are very independent a couple weeks of after birth. The babies stop getting milk from their mother after 3 to 4 months and they stay with her until she reproduces again. Both sexes reach sexual maturity after 30 months.
The Mountain Goat changes its social groupings seasonally. They live in big groups in the winter, and smaller groups, or alone in the summer. The male goats are dominant during breeding season. However during the non-breeding season, the adult females are dominant. Mountain Goat hierarchies are determined early by the kids' playing behavior. The stronger more dominant kids become the leaders of their group. The Mountain Goats' habitat also changes from season to season. They migrate between lowland winter areas, and high elevation summer ranges.
Some adaptations that help a Mountain Goat to survive are its horns, jumping ability, its hooves, and its teeth. Their horns help to defend them from predators. Mountain Goats have a lot of strength in their hind legs that allow them to jump great distances. Their hooves have a slit in the middle to make them more flexible. They have eight teeth on the top and bottom for an easier way to grab big patches of grass. Mountain Goats' diet is basically grass, woody plants, and moss. They get most of their water from their food.
Mountain Goats are prey to coyotes, mountain lions, and bobcats, so they have to be careful where they go. Mountain Goats help the environment by their droppings which add nutrients to the quality of the soil.
Mountain Goats are very close to being on the endangered species list. Biologists are trying to stop hunters from
balance when they are walking in the rugged terrain of the Himalayan mountains. The snow leopard is a strong animal, and can take down its prey with one swift pounce. The back legs are so powerful they allow it to pounce up to 20 feet.
The male snow leopard marks its territory of 4 to 40 square miles with several females inside .The snow leopard is a solitary animal. It mates from January to April. They have 2-3 young in a litter. During birth, the male brings food to the female. After birth, the male leaves the female. The babies are born blind and deaf and they cannot walk. At about three months, they follow their mother on a hunting trip. About two years later they leave their mother. They stay together for a short time and then they go their separate ways. They have babies every two years. The average snow leopard lives up to 20 years.
The snow leopard's coat allows it to blend in with the rocks. The thick fur on the soles of its feet insulate the paws against the snow in the winter. The enlarged nasal cavities help it to breathe in high altitudes.
The snow leopard eats wild sheep, wild boars, gazelles, hares, markhor, bobak, tahr, marmots, mice and deer. The snow leopard is a carnivore, which means that it eats meat. The snow leopard can eat an animal three times the size of itself. The male eats the prey it kills; if he sees his family, he will back off and leave as they eat. The snow leopard will drag the carcass of a large animal to its marked territory and eat it over several days.
The snow leopard is a predator. The snow leopard limits the population of animals so they are not over populated.
The snow leopard is endangered. There are only 4,000 to 7,000 left in the world. Hunting and the decline of its prey threaten the snow leopard's existence. There are 47 parks all over the world, which serve to protect them.
Most of the year yak travel in single sex herds. A herd can consist of 20 to 200 animals. In the fall a bull will join a herd of females and stay with them through their breeding season. The cow will be pregnant for about eight months and give birth to one calf every other year. Their babies are born around June. Female calves stay with the herd, but the bulls move away after three years to join a bachelor herd. Their average life span is about 23 years.
They spend their summers on the high plateaus above the snow line to get away from the heat. Wild yak can easily live in temperatures of -40° F because of their dense coats, but will move to the lower plains before the freezing winter weather arives.
Yaks help to prevent grasslands from growing too tall by eating the grasses. They move around so they don't overgraze any area. Their dried dung is used as fuel, which is very important in the treeless regions where they live.
There are over 12 million yak in the world; most of them are domestic. The wild yak was domesticated about 2,000 years ago. Unfortunately, the number of wild yak is decreasing very quickly, due to uncontrolled hunting, and by their pastures being taken over by domestic yak. There are probably only a few hundred wild yak, and they have been categorized by the IUCN as endangered. Wild yak are now officially protected in China.