Musk Ox Facts

Musk oxen live in the frozen Arctic and graze on roots, mosses, and lichens during winter and Arctic flowers and grasses in summer.

Musk Oxen are adapted for the harsh climate in the Arctic, and their hair is long and shaggy. 

They are herd animals, and when threatened, they “circle the wagons” with their sharp horns facing outward.

Muskoxen live in herds they have separate age-based hierarchies. Bulls will assert their dominance in different ways, including by rushing, butting, and kicking subordinate bulls.

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Musk Ox Facts for Kids

  • Musk Ox are Herbivore
  • Musk Ox are Mammals 
  • Their lifespan is 12- 20 years
  • It has a long, shaggy coat and horns.
  • They live in the arctic tundra of northern Canada and Greenland
  • Canada and Greenland’s arctic tundra is home to them

What do they Eat?

The musk ox eats grasses, sedges, forbs, and woody plants. Winter habitat for these creatures is limited to areas with shallow snow accumulations or areas blown free of snow since they are poorly adapted to digging through heavy snow.

How fast can a musk ox run?

They run at 60 km/h (37 mph). They can cover distances up to 100 miles per day.

How big are they?

Mature bulls and cows weigh 600 to 800 pounds and 1.2 m, respectively. Calves weigh 22-31 pounds and are born in the spring to older cows.

Male musk oxen are about five feet tall, while females are about four feet tall. The male musk ox is half as heavy as a piano.

What do musk oxen look like?

The muskox is a long-haired, stocky animal with long, coarse hair and a short tail. The horns of bulls are larger and heavier than those of cows.

They have long guard hair that hangs to the ground. It is closely related to the takin, a large goat-like animal found in the Himalayas.

They are gregarious animals, living in herds of 50-75 animals. They live in harems of up to 15 females and subadults, containing one dominant bull, which prevents other adult bulls from entering the group.

They have tough hoofed feet, which allows them to walk on the ice and snow without hurting their feet, and they have horizontal pupils in their eyes, which protect them from the sun’s glare.

What is the scientific name of a musk ox?

Muskoxen are scientifically known as Ovibos moschatus, which means “musky sheep-ox.” Their name derives from the odor produced by males during mating season to attract females.

Are musk oxen dangerous?

Normally muskoxen are not dangerous, but they can still pose a threat to people. But they are wild animals and should be treated as such. 

If you encounter a musk ox, stay out of its way and let it go where it wants to go.

Are they endangered?

According to estimates, they are stable at 80-120,000 individuals.

Muskox Predators and Threats

Wolf packs stalk a herd of musk oxen. If they can get the herd moving, they work together to separate the musk oxen by going after the calves or older oxen.

Humans are another threat to the musk ox. However, many of them live on nature preserves where they are protected.

What is the habitat of musk oxen?

The Musk ox is found in Alaska, Greenland, Canada, Russia, and Norway. They live in high elevations in the wintertime to graze near rivers and streams.

What eats a Muskox?

Arctic wolves can only attack musk oxen when they are calves or older oxen. Muskoxen form protective circles around their calves to protect them from Arctic wolves.

Muskox are hunted for their meat, horns, or both.