Species / International Ovis


Ovibos moschatus


Present natural populations are on the north slope of the Canadian mainland from about Cape Bathurst eastward to Hudson Bay, throughout the Canadian arctic islands (except Baffin Island), and on the northern and eastern coasts of Greenland. There are introduced and/or reintroduced populations in Alaska, Quebec and the west coat of Greenland.


Muskoxen are gregarious, usually in herds of 10 to 20, but sometimes 100 or more. Males fight fiercely for possession of the females during the rut, repeatedly charging head-on with their horns smashing together. The rut is July-September, with one calf (rarely twins) born April-June and weaned after one year. Life expectancy is estimated at 15 years, although individuals have been known to live much longer in the wild. The muskox is mainly a grazer in summer and a browser in winter. Eyesight and hearing are believed to be acute. The muskox usually moves slowly and stolidly, but is actually swift and agile if necessary, able to sprint at least 25 mph and run for a considerable distance at 15-20 mph. It easily climbs steep slopes and cliffs and is a good swimmer. Its principal enemy is the wolf. Muskoxen are brave, capable fighters that have learned to deal with wolf packs by forming a tight circle or a phalanx.

Super Ten®/Super Slam®: Populations are stable and increasing, with 85,000 to 95,000 in Canada, of which 60,000 are on Banks and Victoria Islands. Two subspecies are usually recognized, barren ground muskox and Greenland muskox. For the Super Ten®/Super Slam®, either can be counted. Information found here contains excerpts from the on-line and printed version of Safari Club International (SCI) Record Book of Trophy Animals and is used by permission. Visit www.scirecordbook.org.


The name “muskox” refers to the strong, musky odor emitted from the male’s facial glands during the rut. Muskoxen are believed to have migrated to North America over the Bering land bridge during the Glacial Age. The muskox can weigh up to 750 pounds or more. Females are about 30 percent smaller than males. The largest specimens have been recorded from the Canadian mainland; those from the high arctic and Greenland are much smaller. The muskox is relatively unchanged from prehistoric times. Its long, shaggy coat equips it superbly for life in the arctic. Its body hair is the longest of any animal, with individual guard hairs exceeding 24 inches in length. The dense inner coat of fine wool protects it from the cold and frost, while the outer coat, reaching past the knees, sheds snow and rain. The build is stocky, with slightly humped shoulders, short neck and legs and very large hoofs. The head is carried low. General coloration is dark brown, with the saddle and lower legs pale. Males have massive horns, forming bosses that nearly meet on top of the head, then curve down, around and up to sharp points. Females have similar horns, although they are much less massive.

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