Pronghorn antelope are some of the swiftest runners in North America, able to run at speeds of up to 53 miles per hour. Though often referred to as "antelopes", they are only distantly related. Their closest relatives are giraffes and okapis.
1. Scientific & Common Names
4. Present Status
Scientific & Common Names
Kingdom - Animalia
Phylum - Chordata
Class - Mammalia
Order - Artiodactyla
Family - Antilocapridae
Subfamily - Antilocaprinae
Genus - Antilocapra
Species - A. americana
Common Names - Pronghorn, American Antelope, Prong Buck, Pronghorn Antelope
Pronghorn are about 36 inches tall at the shoulder and weigh between 90 to 150 pounds. The males, also called bucks, are heavier than the females. They have reddish-brown fur and white stomachs. They have deer-like bodies, with long, slender legs, short tails, and long faces. On the throats of pronghorns are wide, white stripes. Pronghorns possess tall horns that curve backward. However, these horns also feature forward-pointing "prongs."
Pronghorns are sexually mature around the age of 15 or 16 months old. Each fall, bucks will assemble "harems" of 7 to 10 females with which they will mate. After a pregnancy of 8 months, the female will usually give birth to twin kids the following spring. The kids are kept hidden until they are about 3 weeks old and strong enough to keep up with the main herd. By fall, the kids are weaned and old enough to be on their own in the herd.
Pronghorns are herbivores with a multichambered stomach similar to cows' stomachs. They eat copious amounts of plant matter and regurgitate it, chewing a cud. Pronghorns are herd animals, living in large groups. Pronghorns migrate south when it begins to get cold in the West, and they return to the North when spring returns. Altogether, pronghorns migrate about 300 miles. Pronghorns cannot jump over fences, so their migration is often impeded by ranches, farms, and fenced roadways. Wildlife officials are working to create migration corridors to enable them to complete their journey safely.
When Lewis and Clark explored the western United States, they reported vast herds of pronghorn antelope. By the early 1900s, extensive hunting had brought pronghorn numbers down to about 13,000. Legislators acted quickly, however, and enacted protections for these animals. Soon their numbers rebounded nicely.
Pronghorn numbers are quite stable, and many states have managed hunting seasons for these animals. They are common in southwestern Canada, in the prairie states, in Texas, and in northern Mexico.