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Sichuan Takin

Appearance

Sichuan takins have a fluffy coat which can range from a dark brown to a blonde colour. Their snout is always a black colour. This snout houses large sinus cavities which warm air before it enters their lungs. Over winter they will grow a secondary coat that helps keep them warmer which is then shed at the start of summer. Their shiny black horns grow from the centre of the head and curve out to the side. They may be up to 60cm (35in) long. The hooves of the Sichuan takin are split making it easier for them to navigate their rocky habitat.

Their skin secretes an oily substance which acts as natural raincoat.

At the shoulder Sichuan takins stand 1-1.4m (3.3-4.5ft) tall. The head and body measure 1.5-2.2m (5-7.3ft) long. Females are smaller than males weighing 280kg (616lb) on average. Males weigh up to 350kg (770lb).

Diet

Sichuan takins are herbivores. They will feed upon almost any vegetation which they can get their hands on. This may include herbs, bamboo leaves, pine and willow bark, oak and evergreen rhododendrons.

To reach vegetation they may stand on their hind legs and prop their legs up on a tree. Using their powerful body they have been seen pushing over small trees.

The takin is a ruminant this means that their food goes into their rumen through into the first stomach and then the large particles pass into the second stomach. From here it then comes back up into their mouth as cud which they then chew again.

They will consume soil in some places. Scientists hypothesize that this either gives them minerals or neutralizes some toxic plants.

Sichuan Takin

Scientific Name

Budorcas taxicolor tibetana

Conservation Status

Vulnerable

Height

1-1.4m (3.3-4.5ft)

Weight

Male

350kg (770lbs)

Female

280kg (616lbs)

Length

1.5-2.2m (5-7.3ft)

Lifespan

Wild 18 years

Captive 20 years

Diet

Herbivorous

Range

China and the eastern Himalayas form the native range of the Sichuan takin. Here they are found at heights of between 1219 and 4267m (4,000-14,000ft).

Habitat

They can be found in alpine forests, taiga, temperate forests and barren grasslands.

Reproduction

Mating takes place between July and August. During the rut (breeding season) a small herd is formed. The male will bellow as a means of attracting a female and letting other males know they are there. Sometimes they find a female by tracking her scent. When a pair comes together the male licks her to determine if she is receptive.

Seven to eight months after a successful mating a single calf is generally born with twins being born on rare occasions. After thirty minutes they are on their feet and by three days old it is exploring most terrain varieties. This helps them escape predators or travel to food.

Takin kids can blend in better with their environment at birth as they are dark brown in colour. An even darker stripe runs down the back. On their forehead is a white patch of hair.

They will nurse until two months old at which point they transition to solid food. They may not leave their mum till she has another calf a year after their birth. At six months old their horns start to come through.

Females achieve sexual maturity at 4 ½ years old while it takes males another year to reach this milestone.

Sichuan Takin

Behaviour

Snow leopards hunt young takin but are not able to bring down an adult. Bears and wolves are able to hunt adults.

During the day they hide in dense vegetation and will rest. When sleeping they rest their head on their outstretched legs.

Takins will form groups mostly composing of females. Males are solitary only joining a herd to breed. Groups average 10-35 individuals but some may have 100 individuals.

Quick facts

The blonde coat of the takin is believed to have inspired the legend of Jason and the Golden Fleece.

Photo Credits

Top

By Ltshears (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons

Bottom

By Ltshears (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Common

References

Song, Y.-L., Smith, A.T. & MacKinnon, J. 2008. Budorcas taxicolor. The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species 2008: e.T3160A9643719. https://dx.doi.org/10.2305/IUCN.UK.2008.RLTS.T3160A9643719.en. Downloaded on 23 May 2020.

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