Animal Guide: The Pronghorn Antelope
The pronghorn antelope is an interesting species of animal which many people often mistake as being a true species of antelope. The truth is, the pronghorn is not an antelope at all, although the nickname “pronghorn antelope” is understandable, as this animal looks strikingly similar to an antelope. True antelopes are a member of the bovine family, which also contains cattle, sheep, goats, and gazelles. The pronghorn is actually the last remaining member of the antilocapridae family. Let’s take a closer look at the lifestyle of the pronghorn antelope…
As mentioned earlier, the pronghorn looks a great deal like an antelope. This mammal has a body style similar to a deer, with a slender and graceful build. With a height of about four feet tall and weighing anywhere between 100 to 125 pounds, it is no surprise that this animal is light on its feet. The pronghorn’s eyes are quite large and tend to bulge out a bit. They are located at either side of the head, as is common for animals that need to look out for predators. The horns are present in both the males and females of this species and are located directly above each eye. The males’ horns can grow up to 20 inches in length while the females’ rarely exceed four inches. The pronghorn antelope is either tan or brown and white in color, which makes blending into its surroundings a lifesaving ability.
The pronghorn antelope lives in the open plains and are generally found in the western and central areas of North America. They can be found from Texas to California and up to Saskatchewan, Canada. Grasslands and brushlands are the most common areas for the pronghorn to frequent. They are a very active species of animal and can be seen wandering around during both the night and day. They are fairly nomadic, which means that they usually do not stay in one place for very long. Over the course of a year, a pronghorn will have traveled great distances with either a small herd or on its own. They will, however, gather into large groups during the winter months.
The pronghorn may not seem like much at first glance, but this creature is all about survival. Because of its small size and inability to jump the pronghorn antelope must be able to run very fast—which it does! In fact, the pronghorn is cited as being the second fastest land animal in the world, with the cheetah being the first. Although it can be very difficult to test the top speed of this animal, averages tend to be around 50 miles per hour. Compared to the cheetah’s top speed of over 120 miles per hour, the pronghorn may not seem like much, but it can maintain a high speed for a much longer duration than a cheetah. The natural predators for the pronghorn are cougars, bob cats, wolves, and coyotes, although golden eagles will also prey on the smaller fawns. The pronghorn’s speed, agility, and endurance give it a much better chance of outrunning these predators. In addition to these skills, however, the pronghorn also has excellent eyesight. In fact, it can detect movement up to four miles away! When a pronghorn senses danger, it emits a musky odor which can be scented up to a mile away. It also raises the fur near its tail to alert other pronghorns nearby to the danger, which most other pronghorns will be able to see from about two miles away.
Although the pronghorn antelope is the last remaining member of the antilocapridae family, it luckily has not made it onto the endangered species list yet. The current conservation status of this animal is rated as “least concern”, although there are very strict regulations when it comes to hunting the pronghorn. Efforts have been made to increase the population of the pronghorn which have been quite successful. Perhaps we will see more of this interesting creature in the future!