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Latin name: Ovibos moschatus
Family: Polar bears

Musk ox, or musk ox is the only modern representative of the genus Ovibos from the family of Polorohemia. The genus Ovibos belongs to the subfamily Caprinae, which also includes goats and mountain sheep. One modern species and 2 fossils are known. The closest relative of the musk ox is among the modern species takin. To date, it is one of the few species of large herbivores that are adapted to permanent habitation in high latitudes (except for musk oxen, where reindeers can permanently inhabit).

The traditional European name for musk oxen is the "musk ox". The Russian name "muskox" is a literal translation of the Latin name "Ovibos".


This is a fairly large animal of a dense physique. The dimensions of the body of adult males are approximately the following: length in average 225 cm, height at withers 127 cm, weight about 300 kg. Females are smaller by about one third, a quarter. The front part of the muzzle is covered with short hair (not naked, as in bulls). Horns are present in both males and females, but in males they are noticeably larger and more massive, in males they are up to 73 cm in length, females are up to 40 cm. Horns at the base are very wide, swollen and wrinkled and so close to the forehead of the animal that Between them there is only a narrow groove. They first bend down, then forward, then up and out. Horns light, horny, gray with black ends. They are smooth and round in cross section (except for the main part). In females, a patch of skin covered with white fluff is retained between the horns. Ears are small, pointed and almost hidden in wool. The legs are relatively short, strong, short tail is hidden in the coat, almost always not visible. The size of the trace of an adult male 12? 12 - 12? 14, see Adult male step length about 60, see Rectal temperature in adults is 38,4 ° C. The front hoof is somewhat larger than the rear hooves. The animal's track is reminiscent of a cow, the length of the trail is 6-10 cm, the width is up to 16, the length of the step is 50-75, see Diploid set of chromosomes of musk ox - 2n = 48, NF = 60. The vertebral column consists of 39 vertebrae. Eyes large, projected sideways. Chest wide. The animal's brain is relatively large - its volume reaches 350 cm? At a mass of 358,5 gr. The musk beetle is covered with a thick long coarse wool with a soft silky undercoat. Special thermal insulation properties of fur are achieved due to a thick warm undercoat - fluff, which is called "Gevioth". Musk muskox is from above a dark brown, from below a black-brown color with a brownish light spot in the middle of the back. The coat is very thick, long, hairy, hanging almost to the ground, elongated on the underside of the neck, with a thick undercoat, short only on the legs. This luxurious coat of eight types of hair is one of the most perfect thermal insulation coatings in the animal world. He is the record holder for the length of the coat, on the back it is relatively small - centimeters fifteen, on the sides and abdomen 60-90 cm, the beast looks covered with a large woolen poncho to the very hoofs. Moulting of the animal's hair is one, lasts from May to July inclusive. Winter fur is longer and thicker.


Gon from late July to early October. Before the rush in late July - early August, a group of young females is poured into a powerful male that displaces young males from it and forms a harem. During the mating match, two males run towards each other and forcefully break their foreheads, in the manner of rams. After repeated frontal attacks, the weaker male leaves the battlefield. Males roar during tournament fights. The leader of the harem herd is very aggressive and can be dangerous. During the race, males emit a strong smell of musk, from which they received their second name - musky bulls. Pregnancy lasts about 8-9 months, the calf is born in late April - early June, twins are rare. After the birth of the cub, the female immediately (almost always) begins to lick it. In nature, the mass of the newborn is 7-8 kg. Cubs grow quickly and already at the age of two months weigh about 40-45 kg. At the age of four months their weight is about 70-75 kg, in the six months or a year they weigh 80-95 kg, and in two years - about 140-180 kg. After 2-3 hours after birth, the calf is already able to follow the mother. In the first two days the number of feedings varies from 8 to 18, and the total feeding time is 35-50 minutes. Two-week-old calf sucks mother 4-8 once a day, monthly 1-6 times, time of single feeding rarely reaches 1 minutes. Fat content of milk in musk oxen reaches 11%, 5,3% protein and 3,6% milk sugar. The udders of the females are small, covered with a dense short light hair, has 2 pairs of short (3,5-4,5 cm) nipples. It feeds on milk for about 4 months, but some late-bred and pro-sockeye females feed calves for a year or more. Rags of grasses and mosses of calves begin to taste at week-old age, and a month later passes to green grass forage, supplemented with portions of milk. The sex ratio of newborns is close to 1: 1, but in the adult population of musk oxen, males are much larger than females. Becomes an adult to 3-4 years. Maternal care lasts up to a year. Calves are grouped for joint games, which unites the same group of females. A permanent group of females with calves is formed. In the rich in feeding areas, females give offspring annually, in poorly-fed - often with a pass in 1 year for 10-12 years. The maximum life expectancy of musk oxen is 23-24 years, the average life is 11-14 years.


The inhabitant of the hilly arctic tundra and the polar deserts, often grazing in the mountains in winter, where the wind blows the snow from the slopes. In summer, they move to the places of the richest food - in the valleys of rivers and lakes and depressions in the tundra. The preference for these or those habitats depends on the season and availability of feed. She resembles sheep in her way of life. Lives in the herds, in summer on 4-7 heads, in winter on 12-50, very dexterously climbs on rocks, feeds on moss, lichens (berries and other), grass, various species of shrubbery willows and birches. The animals willingly eat cotton grass, sedges, astragalus, reedmils, mochemists, meadow grass, meadow, shrimp, arctagrostis, arctophile, diponium, dryad. In summer, the animals alternate feeding and rest approximately 6-9 times a day. From September to May he roams. Large seasonal movements do not. The area of ​​the winter section of one flock does not exceed, on average, 50 km2, The size of the annual plot reaches 200 km2. In search of pastures, a herd or an adult cow controls the herd, but in dangerous situations, only the herd bull plays the leading role. The animals usually move slowly and calmly, but if necessary, it can reach speeds of up to 40 km / h and run over significant distances. In winter time musk oxen sleep most of the time or rest, digesting the eaten food. In times of arctic storms musk oxs lay with their backs to the wind, and, unlike migrating reindeer, spend the winter, remaining on a small stretch of the territory. Muskoxes tolerate all kinds of frosts well, but for them high snow is fatal, especially covered with ice crust, although they are able to obtain fodder from under loose snow up to 40-50 depth.


Currently, indigenous populations of musk ox inhabit the North American region north of 60 ° s. In addition to the mainland, it is found on Parry, Grineleva, in western and eastern Greenland and on the northern coast of this island (83 degrees north latitude). Until 1865 year, he lived in the north of Alaska, but was completely exterminated. I was again brought back to 1930 year. In 1936, the musk ox was brought to the island of Nanivak, in 1969 year - to the island of Nelson in Bering Sea And in the reserve in the north-east of Alaska, in all these places he successfully took root. Attempts to acclimatize the musk ox in Sweden, Iceland and Norway did not have much success.


Many zoologists in the 1920-ies raised the question of the expediency of settling musk oxen in the tundra zone of Russia, since the country has a huge territory in the Arctic suitable for the reactivation of the musk ox. Potentially, several hundred thousand musk oxen can live in Russia. But for this it is necessary to organize a wide migration of young animals to new areas, since they themselves are in a position to do so because of the presence of wide swampy areas and large rivers, and it is impossible to do anything from Wrangel Island at all.

Taimyr and Wrangel Island

In the middle of the 70-ies of the XX century, an experiment on reintroduction of previously lived musk oxen began on Taimyr in the mouth of the Bikada and Wrangel Island. The first batch of musk oxen for Taimyr, Canadian zoologists were caught in August 1974 year on. Banks 10 young animals (aged 15 months), equally males and females. In the spring of 1975, 40 animals were caught for Russia on the island of Nunivak off the coast of Alaska (USA). They were delivered, then divided into two equal groups and sent to different places: one - to the reserve "Wrangel Island" (12 females and 6 males 11-month-olds and two-year-old females and males), and the other - to Taimyr, to the lower reaches of Bicada , Where the animals from Canada have already overwintered. The imported musk ox successfully took root. The first successful calving on Wrangel Island was recorded in 1977 year, and in Taimyr - in 1978. The population size during the years that passed since the release was gradually growing, and the populated territory expanded. By the beginning of the 90-s the musk oxen had completely settled the island of Wrangel. Unfortunately, the resettlement of musk oxen was interrupted for a long time by certain political and social transformations. In 1994, the number of musk oxen in the Taimyr exceeded 1 thousand. On the Wrangel Island at that time, there were about 300 animals. At present, according to some estimates, about 4 thousand of musk oxen live in the Taimyr tundra. The population on Wrangel Island reached its maximum size (850 heads) and can become a source for settling and creating new herds on the mainland.

The Polar Urals

By 2000, free-living populations of musk oxen were created in the Polar Urals, on the Terppy-Tumus peninsula, in the delta Lena, On the island of B. Begichev in the Khatanga Bay, and in the lower reaches Indigirki Near the village of Chokurdah.


In October 1996, the first batch of musk oxen (24 six-month calf) was brought from Taimyr to the Bulunsky Ulus of the Sakha Republic (Yakutia). In total, an 101 animal was moved from Taimyr. The livestock in Yakutia exceeded 400 goals. Formed 4 viable populations - Bulun, Anabar, Begichevskaya and Allayhovskaya. In 1997, a group of musk oxen was released on Yamal, the reaclimatization of the musk ox in the tundra zone as a whole is proceeding successfully: the number increases, gradual self-distribution of the species is noted. For the introduction of this species are suitable and many mountain areas of our North.

Magadan region

In 2005, 30 musk oxen were delivered to the Magadan Region from Taimyr. Soon after the delivery, the organization that delivered the animals was disbanded and the gold mining company "Kryvbas" started to take care of the animals. In 2010, animals that had been fed with mixed fodder and harvested hay before, were released into the wild. As a result, two herds of 16 and 10 heads were formed, respectively.


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