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It may be a sheep, but a urial is definitely not fluffy: its coat is short-haired and usually brown. About the size of a very big dog, it has large, forward-curving horns and a long neck ruff, or beard. It is long-legged and fast, its tail thinner and longer than those of other sheep. Early humans did not often hunt urials as game, but sheep were among the first animals to be domesticated by people.
How they hunt.
Because they are grazers, urials do not have to concern themselves with hunting. They range over large areas, preferring the company of other sheep. Their horns are used as blunt weapons both to seriously fight and for 'sport.'
What they eat.
Like most other grazers, urials have molars that are large and flat--perfect for eating grass. The land that sheep graze on is unproductive in human terms. Because the terrain is arid and rocky, and vegetation sometimes sparse, urials are able to utilize land that would be useless to most other creatures.
How they multiply.
Male urials are noticably larger than females, and they fight over females during the rutting season. This time of year is the only period that males and females associate together. It takes just over five months for a young urial to be born, and the baby is raised within the protection of the herd. Twins are more common with urials than with some other sheep species. The usual lifespan for a urial in the wild is about six years.
Where they live.
Some near relatives to the urial live at very high altitudes, but this sheep is found primarily in rolling terrain and deserts from Kashmir to Iran, and in the mountainous regions of Cyprus. Where some sheep and goats will use the difficult terrain to escape their enemies, urials more often escape by speeding away.
Red Light. Because their habitat is needed for human development, the urial is in danger. Encouragingly, there has been a recent increase in the urial population, although not enough--so far--to lift them out of danger. They are not as popular for domestic use as some other sheep (like the mouflon), and so their future will take more careful management.
A urial is expected to ram its way here any day. When it arrives, we'll let you "pet" it. In the meantime, click on the Animal Directory.
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