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Bison

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The largest land mammal in North America! Bison are ungulates, meaning they have hooves.

Where I'm From

Once, great herds of this wonderful animal roamed from northern Mexico to Alaska.

Today, wild Bison herds are found in national parks and refuges in only six US states (Montana, Wyoming, Iowa, Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota) and one Canadian province (Northwest Territory).

What I Look Like

Bison are very large animals with a shaggy dark brown mane.

They have humped shoulders and short legs that are covered with hair.

Their coat is extremely thick in order to keep them warm in cooler temperatures and in the summer months they shed to keep cool. Their coat is so well insulated that snow can settle on its back without melting.

Short, black horns stick out from the bison's massive head, just above their eyes. These horns can grow to be 61 cm long. Both the males and the females grow horns.

These horns are used to defend themselves against predators.

Bison's eyesight is poor, but their hearing and sense of smell is very good.

In fact, a bison can smell an animal three kilometers away.

They also have a hump on their back just before their head. The bison's hump is a mass of muscles that support his or her heavy head.

They have hooves and can pivot on both their front and hind legs and quickly change or reverse direction, or jump.

They have a long tail with a furry end, called a tuft. The bison's tail can signal a warning. When the tail is standing straight up, the bison is ready to charge!

How I Act

Though sometimes called a buffalo, the American bison is not related to the water buffalo or the African buffalo, which are the only true buffaloes in the world.

The American bison is more closely related to cows and goats.

A large shoulder hump and thick winter coat are two things that distinguish a Bison from a buffalo.

The Bison is the largest type of cow in the world and largest mammal still in existence in North America.

Bison have no natural predators. Only the weak and sick are in danger from predators. Their horns, strong hooves, large size and speed (they can run 60 km/hr) are effective weapons of self-defence against wolf packs and even bears.

Bison wallow several times a day during the hot summer days. They stir up dirt and roll around in the dust. The dusty cloud of dirt probably deters insects and may keep their bodies cool.

Bison means ‘ox-like’ in Greek.

In winter, Bison use their head and hooves to find food beneath the snow.