Desert Bighorn Sheep
(Ovis canadensis nelsoni)
The Desert Bighorn Sheep is a subspecies of bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis), that is native to the deserts of the USA's intermountain west and southwestern regions, as well as northwestern Mexico. Southern desert bighorn sheep are adapted to a desert mountain environment with little or no permanent water. Some may go without visiting water for weeks or months, sustaining their body moisture from food and from rainwater collected in temporary rock pools. They may have the ability to lose up to 30% of their body weight and still survive. After drinking water, they quickly recover from their dehydrated condition. Wildlife ecologists are just beginning to study the importance of this adaptive strategy, which has allowed small bands of desert bighorns to survive in areas too dry for many of their predators.
Rams battle to determine the dominant animal, which then gains possession of the ewes. Facing each other, rams charge head-on from distances of 20 ft (6.1 m) or more, crashing their massive horns together with tremendous impact, until one or the other ceases.