Bighorn sheep are all about those famous massive spiralled horns. In the males, they are particularly heavy and can reach over a metre in length. They are the primary weapon during some spectacular clashes over the females and horn size dictates position in the herd. Bighorn sheep are found on the grassy alpine meadows and foothills of some of America's greatest mountain ranges. They're never far from the safety of some rocky cliffs and buffs where agile leaping and bounding between impossibly narrow ledges lets them escape potential predators with ease.
Scientific name: Ovis canadensis
Species range provided by WWF's Wildfinder.
The Bighorn sheep can be found in a number of locations including: North America. Find out more about these places and what else lives there.
The following habitats are found across the Bighorn sheep distribution range. Find out more about these environments, what it takes to live there and what else inhabits them.
Discover what these behaviours are and how different plants and animals use them.
Additional data source: Animal Diversity Web
Population trend: Stable
Year assessed: 2008
Classified by: IUCN 3.1
The bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) is a species of sheep in North America named for its large horns. These horns can weigh up to 30 lb (14 kg), while the sheep themselves weigh up to 300 lb (140 kg). Recent genetic testing indicates three distinct subspecies of Ovis canadensis, one of which is endangered: O. c. sierrae. Sheep originally crossed to North America over the Bering land bridge from Siberia: the population in North America peaked in the millions, and the bighorn sheep entered into the mythology of Native Americans. By 1900, the population had crashed to several thousand. Conservation efforts (in part by the Boy Scouts) have restored the population.