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Antelopes: Classification, Description, Diet, and Behavior

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The antelope share a striking resemblance to deers, are found in Africa, parts of America and Asia. There several antelope species that include Royal antelopes that are the same height with rabbits.

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Antelopes, unlike deers that are able to renew their horns yearly, have strong horns that they carry throughout their lifetime. Antelopes are herbivores, and they a member of the Bovidae family that aren’t categorized as cattle, sheep, or goats.

Below is everything you need to know about this agile mammal.

Classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Artiodactyla
  • Infraorder: Pecora
  • Family: Bovidae
  • Diet: Herbivore
  • Weight: 1,100lbs – 2,000lbs (500kg – 900kg)
  • Top Speed: 43mph (70km/h)
  • Lifespan: 10 – 25 years
  • Conservation Status: Least Concern
  • Color: Red, Brown, and tan
  • Skin Type: Fur
  • Habitat: Forest and grasslands
  • Main Prey: Seeds, grass, shoots
  • Main predators: Cheetah, Lion, crocodile
  • Scientific Name: Alcelaphinae

Description

Antelopes are the deer-like herbivores that are enormously different in size, depending on what species it is. Their large ears, long legs, and slender neck give them a galant appearance.

Antelopes have horns that have a bone core that’s covered in keratin (the same substance that makes our fingernails and hair). Unlike deers that shed their antlers annually, antelopes horns are permanent.

Male antelopes always have their horns; however, the females don’t have horns in some species. Some species have their horns form in intricate spirals, others grow corrugated, ridged, and some could grow into wide sweeping arcs that are sharp and pointy.

Their horns can grow as long as 1.5 m (5 ft) in length.

Habitat

Antelopes are distributed in a variety of habitats. Naturally, mostly in Africa, antelopes can be found n grassland plains and Savannahs.

Some species live in woodlands or forests; others can survive in deserts “hot” or “cold,” or rocky areas. There are at least two semi-aquatic antelope species, and dwelling in wetlands or swamps.

Distribution

Antelopes can be found in parts of the Americas and Asia, but they majorly dominate large parts in Africa.

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Diet

Almost all species of antelope are herbivores, and would only eat plant material. Nevertheless, some reports have it that Duiker species have been seen eating birds. Insects and smaller mammals.

Domestication

There has been very little success in the farming of antelopes. Attempts to domesticate antelopes have been grossly unsuccessful. This is partly because they are challenging to tame, and can easily escape by jumping over high fences.

Can antelopes make good pets?

Smaller species of antelopes have been kept as pets; however, even these tiny hoppers are incredibly stubborn and difficult to tame.

Behavior

Both male and female antelope possess an active scent gland right in front of each eye and is known as the pre-orbital gland. They leave scents by rubbing their scent on stones twigs, trees, and on each other sometimes. There are also scent glands on their knees and between their hooves.

Some species of antelope display a spectacular behavior known as “pronking” or “stotting.” When pronking, they spring very high into the air, stiffen their legs as they arch their backs while pointing their face towards the ground.

There are many theories as to why these hoppers behave this way, one of which is that antelopes are informing their predators not to bother chasing them because they are challenging to catch.

Reproduction

Antelope reach sexual maturity when they are approximately six to seven month old, with male developing slower than females.

Depending on the species of antelopes, the gestation period for them usually lasts between four to nine months. Occasionally, females would give birth to twin calves, but would generally birth a single calf.

Mother antelopes, in some species, would leave her herd to go give birth in a well-protected place, and would occasionally return to nurse her baby; the new calf would then join the herd after about a week.

Size

The tallest antelope, known as the Eland, stands 130 to 180 cm (4 to 6 feet) tall at the shoulder and is a direct contrast of the smallest antelopes, known as the Royal antelope, that are about the same height as that of rabbits.

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Below are other animals similar to the antelopes that you might be interested in reading about;

Kindly use the comments section below if you’d like to share your thoughts with us.

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