Bighorn Sheep Rut - Canada's Angry Ram Mating Dance


Bighorn Rams Fighting for Mating rights During the Bighorn Sheep Rut. The larger Bighorns with superior genetics are able to battle like this for quite a long time during the bighorn sheep mating season. Several larger Rams are seen here battling for the right to mate on this day.

The Bighorn Sheep Rut, also known simply as the "Rut," is a fascinating and critical period in the life of North American Bighorn Sheep (Ovis canadensis). This annual event is marked by a series of behaviors and activities related to mating and reproduction, and it typically occurs in the late fall, usually between October and December, depending on the location and the specific subspecies of Bighorn Sheep.

Bighorn Sheep Mating Season

The Bighorn Sheep Rut is the time when males, known as rams, compete for the attention of females, known as ewes, in order to mate. It is essential for the survival and propagation of the species.

Bighorn Sheep Rut Competition

The rut is characterized by intense competition among the rams. They engage in head-butting contests to establish dominance and hierarchy. These contests can be extremely violent and result in injuries, such as broken horns or even death. The winner of these confrontations gains the right to mate with the receptive ewes.

Bighorn Sheep Rut Vocalizations

Rams emit loud and distinctive vocalizations during the rut. These sounds, such as snorting and throaty grunts, serve to both attract ewes and intimidate rival males.

Courtship During the Bighorn Sheep Rut

Once a dominant ram has secured a harem of ewes, he engages in courtship displays. This includes behaviors like rubbing his scent on rocks and trees and following ewes closely. The courtship ritual ensures that a male's scent is pervasive, marking his territory and indicating his readiness to mate.

Rutting Season Reproduction

Ewes go into estrus during the rut, a period when they are receptive to mating. The successful rams mate with the ewes, resulting in the fertilization of eggs. The gestation period for Bighorn Sheep is typically around six months, so lambs are born in the spring when there is plenty of forage available.

Bighorn Sheep Habitat and Location

Bighorn Sheep rut in specific habitats, such as mountainous regions and canyons, where they have access to food, water, and suitable terrain for their behaviors. Different subspecies of Bighorn Sheep may have variations in rutting habits and locations.

Observing the Bighorn Sheep Rut

The Bighorn Sheep Rut is a popular attraction for wildlife enthusiasts and photographers. National parks and wildlife reserves often offer opportunities to witness this awe-inspiring spectacle while taking care to minimize disturbance to the animals.

The Bighorn Sheep Rut is a vital natural event that ensures the continuation of this iconic North American species. It also showcases the fascinating and sometimes intense Bighorn behaviors that have evolved in these animals to secure their reproductive success.



Bighorn Boss and Crew Lakeside for Some Care

Bighorn Boss and Crew Lakeside for Some Spring Care in Canada's Rockies.


Bighorn Sheep Rut on Video

Largest Bighorn Bosses in Close Quarters to Court Ewes During the Rut

Largest Bighorn Bosses in Close Quarters to Court Ewes During early Rutting Season.


Bighorn Sheep Rut on Video

Bighorn Sheep are Naturals on Mountain Edges

Bighorn Sheep are Naturals whether climbing or descending on Rocky Mountain Edges.


Bighorn Sheep Rut on Video

Young Bighorn Rams Being Bosses During the Sheep Rut

Young Bighorn Rams Being Bosses During the Sheep Rut.


Bighorn Sheep Rut on Video

Young Ram Comes in Hot towards Rival During the Rut

Young Ram Comes in Hot towards Rival During the Bighorn Sheep Rut. These 2 Gifted Rams will dominate very soon!


Bighorn Sheep Rut on Video

Huge Ram Bosses and Ewes River and Mountainside

Huge Ram Bosses and Ewes River and Mountainside Early in the Rut.


Bighorn Sheep Rut on Video

Largest Bighorn Boss and Rival Butt Heads over Courting During the Rut

Largest Bighorn Boss and Rival Butt Heads over Courting During the Bighorn Sheep Rut season. You can see the weight of the larger Ram Boss allows him sure-footed stability during these hits.


Bighorn Sheep Rut on Video

Bighorn Rams Focus on Their Moment When the Boss is Away During the Rut

Younger gifted Bighorn Rams are quick to Focus on Their Moments When the Boss is Away During the Sheep Rut. These moments are also very important to insure a healthy population of Bighorn Sheep into the near Future.


Bighorn Sheep Rut on Video

Largest Bighorn Boss Courts Ewe During the Rut

Largest Bighorn Boss Travels 40km to Court more Ewes During the Bighorn Sheep Rut. During this time, male bighorn sheep engage in various behaviors to establish dominance and compete for access to females, known as ewes. Dominant rams actively pursue ewes during the rut. They will try to gather a group of females, called a harem, and guard them from other males. Ewes may resist initially, and the pursuit can involve chasing and herding behaviors. Once a ram successfully establishes dominance and attracts a group of ewes, mating rituals take place. Bighorn Rams may engage in courtship displays, including lowering their heads, sniffing the females, and nuzzling them to encourage mating. The ultimate goal for the rams during the rut is to mate with as many ewes as possible to ensure reproductive success. The strongest and most dominant rams typically have better access to females and, therefore, a higher chance of passing on their genes. The Bighorn Sheep Rut is a crucial period as it plays a vital role in the continuation of the Bighorn species. This natural behavior shows the adaptations and strategies that have evolved to ensure successful Bighorn Sheep reproduction in challenging environments.


Bighorn Sheep Rut on Video

Bighorn Sheep Rams Get Energized as Rut Season Chemistry Changes

Bighorn Sheep Rams Get Energized as Rut Season Chemistry Changes. As Ewes come into Estrus, Bighorn Rams heighten their energy expenditure in an effort to grow their species with the best genetics. Here is a glimpse of several Bighorn Sheep locations as the Rutting season kicks up a notch.


Bighorn Sheep Rut on Video

Huge Bighorn Rams Start Battling as the Sheep Rut Begins

The Largest Bighorn Sheep in the World reside in our location, here in Canada's Rockies. Bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis) engage in headbutting behavior, particularly during the rutting season, which is the mating season. The rutting season typically occurs in the fall, and it's a time when male bighorn sheep, known as rams, compete for dominance and access to females.


Bighorn Sheep Rut on Video

Bighorn Rut in Canada & America

Bighorn Rut Season in Nature..

View more Bighorn Sheep(Ovis canadensis) rutting season videos with Wildlife On Video.

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Bighorn Sheep Rut Season


When is the Bighorn Sheep Rut Season?

The Bighorn sheep rutting season or breeding season in Canada and the American Rockies is from October to January. During the bighorn rut, Rams fight for dominance by clashing heads in very physical battles. Each group of Bighorn Sheep will have a dominance order, with high ranking Rams(males) doing most of the breeding. Like Elk bulls after their rutting season, energy expended leaves bighorn rams in poor winter condition, resulting in a higher mortality rates among dominant rams.

During the bighorn rut, ram battles take place for the right to collect a harem of ewes(females). Bighorn Sheep Ram challenges can be a combination of show and bluff. When bluffing is matched, two rams will face each other, rearing up onto their hind legs, and smash their horns together with enourmous force. The battle sounds of these impacts are often compared to the reverberation of a high powered gunshot.



Dominant Bighorn Sheep Rams

Very large, dominant bighorn rams often have horns that make a full curl, continuing past they eye. It takes 7 or 8 years for Rams to reach this mature dominant stage and such animals are quite rare outside of protected areas.

Bighorn sheep ram horns can weigh up to 15 pounds on each side, meaning bighorn sheep males might have 30 pounds of horn on their head. Horns are rarely used for defense, but more for rutting season battles to establish breeding rights among the herd of ewes. Bighorn sheep ram fights are a wild animal experience not to be missed.