This month ARKive sets out to explore the animals of Mongolia. From snow-covered mountains to the Gobi Desert and the vast steppe lands, this country is home to a diverse range of alluring wildlife. Living at an average of 5,800 feet above sea level, many of these species are adapted to a high altitude lifestyle.
Mongolia’s top canid is the dhole. These wild dogs typically live in packs of about 12, but have been seen in groups as large as 40. Only the dominant female will breed each season and the whole pack takes responsibility for raising the pups. Working collectively, these predatory canids can take down prey up to ten times their size.
Despite its fearsome reputation, the adder is generally a shy, non-aggressive snake. A skilled predator, it will strike passing prey with a venomous bite, and then track down the dead or dying animal using its keen sense of smell. Young adders do not feed during the first year of their life.
Unlike true deer, the Siberian musk deer has tusk-like canine teeth rather than antlers. As its common name indicates, the male produces a sought after musk, one of the most expensive animal products in the world. In an adult male, the musk gland produces about 28 grams of musk, a dark red-brown, waxy substance, the smell of which can be detected by humans at just 1 part in 3,000.
Around the size of a house cat, Pallas’s cat appears larger due its thick fur, which seasonally changes colour to provide camouflage. A master predator, Pallas’s cat feeds on small mammals, birds and lizards which it stalks in open country, its low set ears helping it to avoid detection in areas where there is little cover.
Przewalski’s horse is the last true wild horse and was named after Russian explorer Nikolai Przewalski who first discovered the subspecies in the 1870s. Human impacts gradually pushed Przewalski’s horse to the furthest limits of its range, and the last wild specimen was recorded in 1968 in southwest Mongolia. Fortunately, captive-bred individuals were able to be subsequently reintroduced to the wild, a real success story for conservation.
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Hannah MacMillan, Wildscreen USA Intern