General description: The bison is the largest native land mammal in North America. A full-grown bull stands 6 feet (1.8 m) at the shoulder, is up to 10 feet (3.3 m) long and can weigh more than a ton (907 kg). Full-grown cows are smaller but have been known to weigh over 1,200 pounds (544 kg). A bison's head and forequarters are massive and seem out of proportion to the smaller hind parts. A bison's backbone begins just ahead of the hips and reaches its maximum height above the front shoulder. From above the shoulder, the hump drops almost straight down to the neck.
The bison's horns curve upward. The horns of the bull are larger and heavier than the horns of the cow. In late fall, the bison's coat is a rich, dark brown. As winter progresses, the coat changes color and is much paler by spring. When the weather warms, the hair loosens and hangs in patches until it is completely shed and replaced with new hair by late spring. Hair on the chin resembles a goatee. Older animals tend to have more hair on their heads.
Life history: Most bison young are born in May, but calves are born from April to August or even later. Newly born calves have a reddish coat. They are able to stand when only 30 minutes old; within three hours of birth, they can run and kick their hind legs in the air. At about 6 days of age, calves start grazing. Their reddish-orange coat begins to darken at about 10 weeks, with the molt to dark brown complete about five weeks later.
Cows are sexually mature at 2 years of age and can give birth to single calves each year. The gestation period is approximately 9 1/2 months (270 days). On rare occasions, a mostly white or even albino calf is been born.
Bison are migratory animals by nature.
Bison move slowly while feeding and appear to be quite clumsy. This is pure deception, for when pursued the bison is fleet of foot and has great endurance.
Bison are grazing animals Their diet is made up mainly of various grasses.
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