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European Mouflon (Ovis musimon)

European Mouflon is a wild sheep, ancestor of almost all breeds of domestic sheep (Ovis aries).


Physical features

The European Mouflon is quite small with body length up to about 120 cm, height at the withers - up to about 80 cm and weight - up to 35-55 kg, as the females are significantly smaller. The males have large, spirally curved horns with forward-pointing tips and total length of up to about 70 cm. The horns of females are much smaller or absent. The mouflon's summer fur is rusty brown and its winter fur is darker. The muzzle, around the eyes, the belly and the lower part of the legs are white. The males are characterized by a light spot on both sides of the body, which is called a saddle.


Lifestyle and nutrition

Mouflons inhabit rocky mountain areas around the forest border, but often go down into the forests, as well. Acclimatized in Bulgaria, the mouflon is successfully bred in the wild and in game farms in the Rhodopes, Stara Planina, Vitosha, Sredna Gora and Strandzha, but also in the lowland forests of the Ludogorie. It prefers the warmer southern slopes, where in winter the snow cover is thinner and does not last long. It also prefers dry climates and does not breed in wet places.

In winter, the mouflons gather in herds of up to about 20 animals, and during the rest of the year they move in small groups, as the females with cubs usually live separately from the males. They go out grazing early in the morning or in the evening, and during clear nights - also at night. They are adapted to nutrition with quite nutrient-poor substances - highland grasses, shrubs, mosses, lichens; in winter they eat mainly tree and shrub vegetation, peel the bark of trees and even eat pine twigs.



The mouflon’s breeding season is from the late September to early November. Then the herds of females and males come together. The older males with the largest horns dominate the others, but there are often clashes to assert the right over a harem of females. After about 5 months of pregnancy, the females give birth to 1 or 2 cubs, which strengthen very quickly. They reach sexual maturity in their second year of life, but while females become sexually active at around the age of 2-3, males usually do not breed until after the age of 7. Mouflons successfully pair with domestic sheep, producing fertile brood.