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  • osstewardship

Gravity-defying Goats

Driving around Keremeos or Summerland, you may have seen mountain goats high up on a steep cliff, walking along without a care in the world. How do they do that without falling?

They have specialized hooves!

Wild goats have what's called a split, or "cloven" hoof, and each part has an inner and outer layer. The sharp, hard outer hoof digs into and grips the ground, while the soft, spongy inner hoof molds to even the smallest uneven contour on the surface, securing its foothold even more. The surface of the inner part is also quite rough to increase traction. The split in the hoof allows the goat to pinch and hold onto crags and secure each half of its foot as best as it can. You can see each part of the hoof in the photo below - the ridge around the edge shows the outer and inner layers.

You can also see the large dewclaws above the feet too . Those act as an extra emergency stopper to help drag and slow them down if they do ever slip and fall

Wild sheep like our Bighorn Sheep have hooves with similar features to wild goats and though their hooves may not be as finely tuned as goat hooves, they are still amazing climbers and scramblers!


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