Other namesImage: American Buffalo
Latin name: Bison
size: 2,00 - 3,80m body length
mass: 500 - 900kg
Older: 10 - 20 years
Appearance: dark brown coat
Sexual dimorphism: Yes
Nutrition type: Herbivore (herbivor)
food: Plants and grasses
distribution: North America, Europe
Sleep-wake rhythm: diurnal
habitat: open grasslands, steppes
natural enemies: no
sexual maturity: between the age of three and six
mating season: ?
gestation: 9 months
litter size: 1 cub
social behavior: Herd animal
Threatened with extinction: Extinct
Further profiles of animals can be found in the Encyclopaedia.
Interesting facts about the bison
- Bisons describe a genus within the wild cattle, which is subdivided into two types depending upon area of distribution. The American Bison inhabits large parts of North America, while the European bison comes from Europe.
- Bison herds once decisively shaped the prairie landscapes of North America. An estimated sixty million animals were living in much of the continent between Alaska and Mexico until the end of the 17th century.
- They served the Native Americans as their main livelihood. With the arrival of European settlers who extensively hunted the bisons, stocks have been reduced so drastically that in the nineteenth century only about a thousand survived.
- It is thanks to intensive breeding and conservation efforts that the bison population has recovered to some extent. Most herds today are strictly protected in the many national parks of North America.
- A similar fate was suffered by the bison, which was completely eradicated in Europe until the beginning of the 20th century. The animals that live today are all descended from bisons kept in zoo facilities. Through consistent release of small herds in some Central European countries now lives again a tiny stock in the wild.
- In North America, bison herds only roam over long distances through the landscape when they are in search of new pastures or waterholes in dry seasons. In Europe, these animals are relatively localized if they find enough food in lush meadows.
- Male American bison can reach a body length of up to 3.80 meters and weigh about 900 kilograms. This makes them the largest land mammals in North America. They are excellent swimmers and can cover up to fifty kilometers per hour despite their high body weight.
- Like the American bison, the much smaller wisent falls through the strong and high, forming a humpback muscle crest on the back, the triangular skull and the short, inwardly curved horns. The coat appears dark brown and is much denser in winter than in summer.
- While the cows and cubs live together in herds of twenty to fifty animals, many bulls as loners roam the landscapes. At the rutting season in autumn, they join a herd and mate with a cow.
- After a gestation period of about nine months, this brings a single calf on the world. To give birth, she often withdraws from her flock at short notice, some cows remain in the midst of other herd members during the birth.
- The calf can go on its own two days after the birth and remains in the care of the mother for about a year.
- Serious and bitter fighting between bulls are rare, usually it is in the clashes only to show off. Most of the inferior cop gives up quickly by submitting.
- In the wild bison reach a life of about twenty years, but can be twice as old in captivity.