ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Pronghorn: Americas speed demon

Updated on August 21, 2013


The pronghorn is a peculiar critter. Often called an antelope, pronghorns are not related to antelope from Europe or Africa. In fact, they are the only animal in the genus Antilocapra. They are related to goats and are sometimes called “speed goats.”

Pronghorns are the only animal in the world that grows horns that are branched, hence their name. They are also the only animal that sheds its horns each year.

They are one of the fastest animals in the world and can run for miles at speeds of 50 miles per hour.

Pronghorns are popular with wildlife watchers because the open habitat they live in makes them easier to see. Their striking coloration makes them a beautiful sight and their blazing speed make them fun to watch.

What is the difference between antlers and horns?

Antlers are found on members of the deer family and are usually grown only by males. They are a bone-like growth that is shed and re-grown every year. Antlers are usually branched and have multiple points.

Horns are grown by members of the sheep, goat and cattle families. They are made of a sheath of specialized hair follicles that grow over a bone core. Horns are not shed, but continue to grow throughout the life of the animal. Both males and females grow horns, but the horns grown by males are usually much larger. Horns do not usually fork or branch.


As it’s name implies, the pronghorn grows a horn that has a prong or branch. Sometimes incorrectly called an antelope, the pronghorn is also different because it sheds its horn sheaths every year.

Both the buck and doe pronghorn have horns, but those of the buck (shown above left) are much bigger and have a prong. Males also have a black cheek patch and a darker nose than females (shown above right).

Super vision

Because pronghorns live in open country, vision is an important part of their survival. Their large eyes protrude from the side of their heads. Some scientists believe that Pronghorn eyesight is comparable to our eyes looking through 8-power binoculars.

Since vision is so important, pronghorns are usually most active during the day when bright sunlight makes it easier to see.

Another adaptation that helps pronghorns is that their hair is hollow. This provides excellent insulation to help keep them cool in the summer and warm during the cold and windy winters of the high plateaus.

Built in binoculars

Coyotes are one of the predators that pronghorns need to watch out for. If pronghorn eyesight is equal to 8-power binoculars, the coyote on the right would look more like the coyote above left to a pronghorn. making it much easier to avoid these crafty predators.

Fun Fact

In Wyoming and northern Colorado there are more pronghorns than people.

Pronghorn kids can outrun a coyote within a day or two of being born.
Pronghorn kids can outrun a coyote within a day or two of being born.

Pronghorns are often found in small groups with a dozen or so does and a buck or two. Breeding occurs during the fall. Females typically give birth in the spring to two babies called fawns or kids (just like baby goats). Pronghorn kids can get to their feet within minutes of birth and within a day or two can outrun a coyote.

Nearly all pronghorn populations are found in open, low rolling, or flat terrain with a good supply of sagebrush and other shrubs.

Because pronghorns inhabit the high plains deserts, drinking water sources are important to pronghorn populations. Although pronghorns can get most of the water they need from the plants they eat during wetter periods, when things get drier they need ponds and springs to supply them with the gallon of water they need every day.

In Wyoming’s Red Desert, 95% of 12,465 pronghorn counted from the air were within 4 miles of a water source.


Fun Fact

Animals that are active during the day, like pronghorns, are called diurnal. Nocturnal is the word used to describe animals that are active at night. Many of Utah’s big game animals, especially deer and elk, are most active during the twilight hours around dawn and dusk. The word that describes this type of activity is crepuscular. Many animals that are called nocturnal are in fact crepuscular.

Being active at different times allows different animals to use the same habitat without being in direct competition. Hawks and owls can hunt the same field or meadow for the same rodents without conflict because hawks are diurnal and owls are nocturnal.

Being active at night is an adaptation to avoid or enhance predation. For example, lions prefer to hunt at night because many of the animals they eat like zebra and impala don’t see well at night. Many species of small rodents are active at night because most of the birds that hunt them are diurnal.

Some animals, like the lion or even a domestic cat, can be active at all times of the day. They have specially adapted eyes that let them see both day and night. They choose when to hunt based on the availability of prey and temperature or weather factors.

Pronghorn transplanting

In the 1960s, 129 pronghorns from Montana were transplanted to Parker Mountain in central Utah. Since that time, the herd has become one of the most prolific big game herds in the nation. Since 1975, the Parker Mountain pronghorn population has provided over 4,700 pronghorn for release into areas throughout Utah, and other western states.

Pronghorn populations in Utah during the early 1900’s were located in the west desert from Beaver County north to the Idaho state line and in Daggett County in northeastern Utah adjacent to the Wyoming state line. Beginning in 1945, transplants of pronghorn to other areas in the state have resulted in a wider distribution in most of Utah’s suitable desert habitats and have increased the statewide population to an estimated 12,000–14,000 animals.

Most of Utah’s pronghorn herds are a result of transplants. Although few areas of unoccupied pronghorn habitat remain in the state, it is important to continue to use surplus animals from selected units to augment existing populations during times of low production.


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    No comments yet.


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)