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Above photo by 0x010C (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons
Musk oxen are members of the bovine (cow) kind that live in the frigid Arctic all year long. This kind was created on Day Six of Creation Week and includes familiar animals such as domestic cows and buffalo.
During the short summer, musk oxen feed on grasses and flowers, building up enough fat to help get them through a long, cold winter. In the winter months, they must dig through the snow to reach roots, mosses, and lichens.
Because musk oxen are designed for the cold, they can’t run for very long without overheating. So how do they escape from predators? They form a circle, with their young in the middle, and use their sharp horns to fight off wolves or bears while protecting their young. Both males and females have horns, which they keep all year round.
Here are some fun facts about musk oxen.
A Muskox at the Wild Zoo of St-Félicien (Quebec, Canada).
Genus/Species: Ovibos moschatus
Size: 4–5 ft
Weight: 500–800 lbs
Diet: Roots, mosses, lichens, grasses, and flowers
Habitat: Arctic tundra in Canada, Greenland, Alaska, and Russia
Life Span: 12–20 years
Special Design Feature: Musk oxen have two layers of hair. The top layer is thick and long to keep snow and rain from getting to the shorter, insulating coat. This second coat is the lightest, warmest wool in the world, and protects the oxen from the frigid Arctic winter.
Musk oxen are the second largest animals to live on the Arctic tundra. Only polar bears are larger.