Information on Mountain Goats
of the Ruby Mountains

Other Mountain Goat Pages - Photos

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History - Mountain goats were introduced into the Ruby Mountains in the mid 1960's. There were twelve goats that were transferred from Washington State and then released into the Ruby Mountains. In 1995 this herd was estimated close to 250 animals.

In the winter of 1996-97 these goats had a die-off from pneumonia. Nevada Department of Wildlife (NDOW) estimated that there were less than 100 goats in 1997. In five years the Mountain Goat population was estimated back up to 250 mountain goats in the Ruby Mountains. In 2005 that estimate was up to 270 goats.

Size - Mountain Goats are around 2 1/2- 3 feet (75-90 cm) tall at the shoulders and weigh 200-300 pounds (90-136 kg).

Facts - Both males and females have horns. Most goats have horns less than 10" (26cm) long but the world record (tie) had 12" (30 1/2cm) horns. Mountain goats can live up to around 11 years in the wild and the kids can run and jump only 10 minutes after birth.

Billy or Nanny? - It is hard to tell the difference between a male (billy) or female (nanny) mountain goat. A billy has a larger body than a nanny while there horn length is the same. I have found that one of the best ways to tell the difference is to take a close look at the shape of their horns. A billy's horns have a thick base while a nanny's horns are slender. The curve of their horns are different also. The horns of a billy have a gradual curve throughout the length of the horn. The horns of a nanny have most of their curve on the top 1/3 or so of the horn. You can see the photos below to see the difference.

Mountain Goats in the Ruby Mountains
Billy - Notice the thick horn base.
Mountain Goat in the Ruby Mountains
Nanny's have slender horns compared to billys.

Mountain Goat in the Ruby Mountains
The horns of a billy have a constant curve from base to tip.
Mountain Goat in the Ruby Mountains
Notice a nanny has a straighter horn than a billy with most of the curve on the top 1/3 of the horn.


Learning to understand what a mountain goat is saying. - Mountain Goats can tell you a lot by the way they hold their tail as the photos below show.


These mountain goats are relaxed without a care in the world.
Their tails are down.

This mountain goat is not sure about something in it's surroundings.
This mountain goats tail is straight out.
Also notice the lamb is on the other side or the safe side of the nanny.

This mountain goat is alarmed and leaving the area.
Notice it's tail is straight up.


YouTube Video Clips

If you would like to see Mountain Goats in action we have posted videos on YouTube.
  • Backpacking in the Ruby Mountains.com - Recorded 12 November 07. This is a special video that shows the interaction of three mountain goats and a young bighorn ram.
    For More Information
    A Beast the Color of Winter A Beast the Color of Winter: This is a great book that I have read multiple time to help me understand Mountain Goats. It is an easy book to read and very informative.

    Mountain Goats, Ecology, Behavior and Conservation of an Alpine Ungulate This is a great book with a ton of information on Mountain Goats.

    Northern Wild Sheep and Goat Council - This is a great site that I have used for years to gather information. Be sure to check out the Symposia page for .pdf's full of information.

    Mountain Goat Hunting Orientation - This Nevada Department of wildlife .pdf has a lot of good info about mountain goats.

    Wikedia.org - The Free Encyclopedia.

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