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The male muskox emits a strong musky odor during the mating season.

At this time of year, the male is very aggressive, clashing with other males to keep them away from his small harem.

Rivals charge each other at a gallop, smashing their heads together. Fortunately, their skulls are protected by massive helmets of horn, or bosses.

Females have bosses and horns, too.

Muskox feed on the leaves of small shrubs, grass, sedges, herbs, moss, and lichen.

When threatened by predators such as wolves and bears, they form a circle or a crescent facing the attack, with the young and females protected in the center.

Animal Facts

Name: Muskox (Ovibos moschatus)

Family: Bovidae (Cattle and Relatives)

Range: Northern Canada, especially arctic islands; also western Greenland

Habitat: Arctic tundra

Diet: Grasses, sedges, reeds, and other vegetation

Head and Body Length: 6 to 8 feet (1.8 to 2.5 m)

Tail Length: 4 to 5.5 inches (10 to 14 cm)

Shoulder Height: about 5 feet (1.5 m)

Weight: 400 to 840 pounds (180 to 380 kg)

Life Cycle: Mating July to September; gestation 230 to 260 days, one (rarely two) calves born

Description: Dark brown to black fur; thick guard hairs and wooly inner layer; long, curving horns that meet at center of head; short neck; stocky body; short, pale legs

Conservation Status: Common