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An Ultimate Ungulate Fact Sheet
Pseudois schaeferi
Dwarf blue sheep
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Common name:
Scientific name:
Other names:
Dwarf blue sheep
Pseudois schaeferi
Rong-na, Ai Yanyang, Zwergblauschaf

Physical Characteristics

Head and body length: 109-160 cm
Shoulder height: 50-80 cm
Tail length: 7-17 cm
Adult weight: 17-40 kg (females); 28-39 , up to 65 kg (males)

The dwarf blue sheep is a steely-gray color, with the belly being whitish. The legs are darker than the body, but do not possess distinct markings. Both males and females have horns: in females, they are short and more-or-less straight, rising vertically from the forehead, in males the thick horns curve out to the sides, with the tips pointing upwards and outwards. The horns may grow to 41 cm in length in males.

Similar species
  • Very similar to, and sometimes listed as a subspecies of, the bharal (Pseudois nayaur). The bharal is considerably larger (male bharal may weigh twice what mature male dwarf blue sheep weigh) and has more distinct black markings on the face, legs, and sides. Females of the two species are very similar.

Reproduction and Development

Gestation period: 160 days.
Litter size: 1, rarely 2.
Weaning: At 6 months.
Sexual maturity: At 1.5 years.
Life span: Unknown

The breeding season is though to occur between mid-November and mid-December. After a pregnancy that lasts almost six months, babies are usually born between late May and late June.

Ecology and Behavior

Dwarf blue sheep are wary animals, and are thus difficult to observe. They tend to be active in the morning and late afternoon, resting during midday in shallow beds scraped out with their front legs. During the summer, nearly a third of their time is spent feeding and foraging.

Family group: Small herds of 2 to 15 animals (usually between 4 and 6) of varying sexes and ages.
Diet: Mostly grasses, sometimes leaves and mosses.
Main Predators: Wolf, dhole, leopard, large raptors.

Habitat and Distribution

Dwarf blue sheep live on very steep hillsides along the Yangtze River in Sichuan Province and the Tibet Autonomous Region in China. Favoring rugged grassy slopes, they are sometimes seen in coniferous forests. The altitude of their limited range is 2,600-3,200 meters. The approximate range is depicted in the map below.

Range Map
(Redrawn from Wang et al., 2000)

Conservation Status

IUCN Red List: Endangered (2008).
CITES Listing: Not listed (2011).
Threats: Hunting, habitat degradation through livestock grazing and farming.

Only a few hundred dwarf blue sheep are thought to survive in the wild. Much of their range falls within a protected reserve, although the principal threats to their survival continue to occur within its borders.

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