Natural Histories

photograph of a Sunda Pangolin


Rupicaptra rupicapra


Chamois can weigh 25-50 kg and grow to be 110-135 cm long and have a shoulder height of 70-80 cm. Their coat are chestnut brown that becomes lighter in the spring and summer months and darker in the winter months from growing long, dark guard hairs over their fur. The under-parts, throat, face, rump and tail are pale and white. This species has a dark brown band extending from the muzzle to the ears. Both male and female chamois have horns that hook sharply back at the tips, female horns tend to be slimmer and longer than the males.


Chamois can be found in the Pyrenees, the mountains of south and central Europe, Turkey, and the Caucasus in Asia. This species has been introduced on the South Island of New Zealand. Chamois prefer alpine and sub alpine meadows above the timberline. This species spends the winters in forested areas and steep slopes where there is no snow accumulation.

Feeding Behavior and Diet

Chamois are herbivorous grazers, consuming only vegetative matter. This grazing species consumes mostly herbs and flowers during the summer while consuming lichens, mosses, and young pine shoots in the winter. During winter months this species is capable of fasting for two weeks when the snow is too deep to retrieve food.


Chamois breed during the end of October and December. Females produce 1-3 kids (young) in May and June, about 170 days after mating. Kids are weaned after 2-3 months. Young males remain with their mothers for 2-3 years before becoming nomadic, they reach sexual maturity at 4 years old but do not fully mature until 8-9 years. Females reach sexual maturity after 2.5 years.

Months and Times of Activity

Older male chamois are solitary except when they join herds in the late summer for breeding. Females and young males are gregarious, living in social groups. This species is mostly diurnal, meaning chamois are mostly active during the day.

Special Features, Stories, Relationships

  • Chamois are very good at escaping danger; danger is announced by a whistling sound and foot stamping, they will also flee to inaccessible places by leaping. Chamois can leap 2 m high, 6 m long and run 50 km/hr on uneven ground.
  • Chamois will adopt kids from other females if the other female has died.
  • To read legends featuring this animal go to:
  • Children’s book featuring this animal: Giddy Goat by Jamie Rix and Lynne Chapman

Gunderson, D. 2003. "Rupicapra rupicapra" (On-line), Animal Diversity Web. Accessed November 03, 2014 at