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Rupicapra rupicapra

Scientific classification
Species:R. rupicapra
Binomial name
Rupicapra rupicapra
(Linnaeus, 1758)

The chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) is a large, goat-like animal that lives in the European Alps and Carpathians. It is one of only two species of the genus Rupicapra, the other being the Pyrenean Chamois, Rupicapra pyrenaica. It is in the Caprinae subfamily of bovids, along with sheep and goats.

As a mountain dweller, the chamois is excellently adapted to living in rugged, rocky terrain. Its climbing abilities are only surpassed by the Alpine Ibex. A fully grown chamois reaches a height of about 75 cm (2.5 feet) and weighs about 50 kg (110 lb). Both males and females have short horns which are slightly curled backwards. In summer, the chamois' fur has a rich brown color which turns to a light grey in winter. Distinct characteristics are a white face with pronounced black stripes below the eyes, a white backside and a black dorsal strip. Chamois can reach an age of up to 20 years.

Female chamois and their kids live in herds; grown-up males tend to live solitary for most of the year. During rut season (late November/early December), males seek out female herds and engage in fierce fights with each other. After a gestation period of 20 weeks, a single kid is born. The kid is fully grown at an age of three years. It is rumored that in farming areas, male chamois will occasionally mate with goats and produce sterile hybrids, but no such event has ever been scientifically recorded.

Due to their tasty meat, chamois are popular game animals; the tuft of hair from the back of the neck is traditionally used as a "gamsbart" (literally chamois beard), a decoration commonly worn on hats throughout the alpine countries. Chamois leather was originally used to create "shammy" leather pads that are often used for car cleaning; today, shammy pads are made from a wide variety of different animal skins. Similarly, chamois leather was also used to make padding for cycling shorts, to minimize chaffing and for easier cleaning for anti-bacterial reasons. However, most cycling shorts today are also made from synthetic material. Chamois leather is popular today on professional film and video camera viewfinders, as they provide comfort and absorb sweat for camera operators who spend long times with their eye planted on the viewfinder.

The German name for the Chamois is Gemse (or Gemsbock for the male animal); in English usage, the term gemsbok is often misapplied to a species of sub-Saharan antelope of the genus Oryx.

External links

de:Gämse eo:Ĉamo it:Rupicapra rupicapra pl:Kozica sl:gams


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