It is a fantastic experience to watch a mountain goat scale up the side of a mountain. It seems like these goats are tethered to something or are magically defying gravity. How do these goats not tumble off the side of a mountain? In short, their bodies and hooves are designed to climb mountains. Let’s dig into the answers in more detail. We’ll also cover what happens on rare occasions when mountain goats do slip and fall, and what helps keep these goats balanced.

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What Keeps Mountain Goats From Falling?

It is not magic that keeps these goats balancing effortlessly on the rocky terrain. Instead, mountain goats rely on their natural-born features to help them be the expert climbers that are!

  • Mountain goats are genetically agile creatures. Despite their name and appearance, mountain goats are more closely related to antelopes than the standard farm goat. Nature documentary enthusiasts are familiar with how well antelopes can leap and bound across the savannah. Mountain goats also have excellent eyesight, allowing them to find the best places to climb with ease.
  • Their hooves are designed for climbing. Flat hooves are not ideal for climbing up and down rough terrain. Mountain goats’ hooves are split into two sections, making gripping rock surfaces easier. Their hooves are also rubbery, giving them natural traction. They also have something like dewclaws at the back of their hooves, making it easier to slow themselves down when descending.
  • They have slim bodies. Even though mountain goats look chunky, they have slim bodies. This slimness makes it easier to slip between crevices and balance on narrow ledges on the mountains.

What Can Cause a Mountain Goat to Fall?

While mountain goats have the physical ability to tackle the highest mountains, sometimes they do fall. It is not common, and most mountain goats do survive the tumble, depending on the distance they fall, of course. The most common reason why mountain goats slip and fall is due to fighting amongst each other. During mating season, males will fight each other over females, causing the stronger males to knock the weaker ones off the ledge. Very young kids might also slip and fall due to their climbing inexperience.

young mountain goat jumps
Image Credit: Kelp Grizzly Photography, Shutterstock

Why Do Mountain Goats Climb Mountains?

Some people might wonder why mountain goats climb mountains in the first place. Firstly, mountain goats climb high to escape from predators. The ledges that mountain goats can scale are more difficult for many predators. Second, mountain goats go up high in search of food. Usually, they do not need to climb to extreme elevations to find things to eat; however, in harsher situations, mountain goats will need to climb higher to find sustenance. These goats are also adventure seekers! They like to explore their terrain.

Fun Facts About Mountain Goats

Besides being one the most agile animals on land, there are some other amazing facts about mountain goats.

  • There are about 100,000 mountain goats in North America.
  • Adult mountain goats can leap up to 12 feet!
  • After they are about 2 years old, you can learn their age by the rings on their horns.
  • Despite their cute faces, they can be very aggressive.
  • Kids will start rock climbing about 1 to 2 days after they are born.
mountain goat on a cliff
Image Credit By: Tom6667, Pixabay

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It can be quite an experience seeing these mountain goats in their natural habitat. However, since these are wild animals and can get aggressive at times, it is essential to observe their movements from a distance. It is also not a good idea to try to follow mountain goats on their paths. People need specialized climbing equipment to reach the elevation that mountain goats can scale easily. It would be best not to mimic their movements for your safety.

Featured Image Credit: Paul Tessier, Shutterstock