When you think of a speedy animal, usually a cheetah comes to mind. But the fastest land animal in North America is the pronghorn antelope. It can run up to 60 mph and maintain that speed for a longer period of time than a cheetah. Pronghorns also hold the record for the longest land migration in the continental United States.
Starting in November, large herds of pronghorns make a grueling 150-mile trek from Grand Teton National Park to the Upper Green River Valley in Wyoming. In April, they will reverse their route and head back north. It's a dangerous obstacle course, having to cross many roads and jump over fences, through private property and ranches.
The pronghorn has reddish-brown fur has white markings around the face, neck and stomach, and also on the rump, where extra-long hair sticks up when it signals danger. Large, sideways-facing eyes provides it with excellent vision. It can spot predators from very far away, a useful attribute with the flat grassland habitat it lives in. Pronghorns have a body that's generally shaped like a deer, with long legs, a short tail and a long snout, and some people have nicknamed them "speed goats," but they are actually not related to deer or goats. In fact, they are the only surviving member of a family called Antilocapridae. Their closest living relative is the giraffe.
The standout characteristic of pronghorns is its horns! (And they are true horns, not antlers.) Both males and females have them. Females' horns are much shorter than males', which usually grow to around 10 or 12 inches high. The horns point backwards and have a small notch, or prong, at the top that points forwards.
1. Pronghorns are herbivores and seldom drink water, because they receive most of their water from the plants they eat. 2. The average lifespan of a pronghorn is about 10 years. 3. Pronghorns are only found on the continent of North America, with their natural range being from southern Canada to northern Mexico.