Yaks are able to withstand temperatures of -40degrees C (–40 degrees F). At this temperature, they have even been seen bathing in lakes and rivers. The yak’s warm coat provides insulation through a thick outer coating of long hair and a dense inner coating of matted, shorter fur.
Amazing Facts About the Yak
- Most yaks are domesticated although there is also a small, vulnerable wild yak population.
- Yaks are herd animals. Herds can contain several hundred individuals, although they are often much smaller.
- The herds consist primarily of females and their young, with a smaller number of adult males.
- A great deal of their time is spent grazing on mountain plains, eating grass, herbs and wild flowers.
- Yaks live at the highest altitude of any mammal.
- Similar to other cow species, the yak has more than one stomach which it uses to successfully get all the nutrients out of the plants it eats.
- Yaks have firm, dense horns which they use to break through snow in order to get the plants that are buried underneath. They will also use their horns in defence.
- They have a dense undercoat covered by outer hair which is generally dark brown to black in color, which almost reaches to the ground.
- In winter a yak can survive temperatures as low as -40 degrees C (-40 degrees F).
- At night and in snowstorms they will protect themselves from the cold by huddling up together with their calves in the warmer centre.
- Yaks usually give birth in June. A female yak gives birth to a single calf every other year. The mother will find a secluded spot to give birth. Once born, the calf is able to walk within about ten minutes and the pair will rejoin the herd.
- Yaks are very friendly in nature and there has been very little documented aggression from yaks towards human beings, although mothers can be extremely protective of their young and will bluff charge if they feel threatened.
- Contrary to popular belief, yaks and their manure have little to no detectable odor when maintained appropriately in pastures or paddocks with adequate access to forage and water.
- Yaks grunt and, unlike cattle, are not known to produce the characteristic bovine lowing (mooing) sound.
- Historically, the main natural predator of the wild yak has been the Tibetan Wolf, but Brown Bears and Snow Leopards have also been reported to predate on Yak in some areas.
- Wild yak are threatened by habitat loss and over-hunting by humans.
Photo: travelwayoflife – wikimedia commons
- Type: Mammal
- Diet: Herbivore
- Lifespan: 15-20 years
- Size: 2-2.2 metres
- Habitat: Grassy plains in mountainous regions
- Range: The Himalayan region of south Central Asia, the Tibetan Plateau and as far north as Mongolia and Russia.
- Scientific name: Bos grunniens (domesticated), Bos mutus (wild)