Mountain Goats Have Special Feet for Clinging to Hillsides

This is another of our Montana posts: and seriously, is there anything cuter than a baby Mountain goat?  I loved watching this herd of nannies and their youngsters on a relatively crowded trail at Logan Pass, just past the boardwalk where our Hoary Marmot was hanging out!  Watching this group, I was entranced by their agility on slippery rock, snowy slopes, and inch-wide paths.  A little research turned up their amazing adaptation of soft pads between their hooves so they can hold on tight (even in 80mph winds!!!)

Once the mating season is over, the goats form herds~ the male goats go off one direction and the nannies stay with the kids for the season.  They can be attracted to some of the popular trails for several reasons: reduced predators and the easy availability of salt on sweaty handrails!  I heeded the warnings to stay at least 25 feet away (those horns look really sharp!) but I had to back up several times.

Shedding that Fur Coat

Because they have such a thick coat, they are well suited to winter temperatures that can be colder than 45 degrees BELOW ZERO! But in summer they shed the entire coat (and not just one hair at a time) so they have a particularly shaggy appearance.

Those Adaptable Hooves

Their large hooves have soft felt-like stretchy pads between their cloven hooves~ they are rubbery and flexible, and this allows the mountain goat to hold on to surfaces that seem precarious.  They can also jump: up to 12 feet!

Part of the Antelope Family

Technically, mountain goats aren’t goats at all.  They’re part of the antelope family.  Here’s an explanation for that from National Geographic.

Need more Mountain Goats?

Here’s an Animal planet show with some great footage of a baby mountain goat learning to balance and follow mama… The narration is a little over the top, especially when Tom Selleck describes the kid as “facing his fears and learning to triumph.”  But the little goat is really cute.