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Nubian Ibex (Capra nubiana) Fact Sheet: Reproduction & Development

Courtship

Rut (from Habibi 1994 unless otherwise noted)

  • Brief, seasonal period of sexual activity
    • Lasts c. 6 weeks, in Arabia (Habibi 1997)
  • Males compete for access to reproductive females
    • See Aggression in Social Interactions
    • May travel long distances
      • Travel corridor >60 km (37 mi) used by breeding males, in Israel (Shkedy and Saltz 2000)
      • Mate with multiple females, though typically guard a single female at any one time (Shackleton 1997)

Courtship behavior (from Habibi 1994 unless otherwise noted)

  • Male behavior
    • Often stick out and flick the tongue; tail held stiff and upright during rut
    • Low-stretch
      • Approaches female from behind; move with quick steps before stopping at a short distance from partner
      • Outstretches neck; head held at shoulder level
      • Displays front and side of horns; turn neck, horns often touch the shoulders
    • Rear-sniff and flehmen (lip-curl)
      • Sniffs to investigate the female's perineal region
      • Female often responds by walking away, crouching, or urinating
        • Male often examines the urine on the ground and may soak his lips in it before performing flehmen
    • Front-kick
      • Raises and extends a front leg to kick the chest, belly, or haunches of a female
    • Chase
      • Male may follow an unreceptive female for some time as the female dodges repeated courtship attempts
      • Following may last for considerable time; c. 2 hours in one study
    • Guarding
      • Close association with an estrus female to discourage courtship by other males
    • Click here for a brief video
  • Female behavior
    • Wags tail and may rub her body against interested males when in estrus
    • Anoestrus females typically ignore males or urinate in response to their advances
  • Copulation
    • Brief; lasts a few seconds
    • Male holds his head high and rests the front legs along flanks of the female

Reproduction

Seasonal reproduction (Habibi 1994)

  • Birth season
    • Springtime birth season; typically March to April (Alkon 2013)
    • Females segregate with their young for a few weeks after parturition (Habibi 1997)

Cooperative infant care

 

Gestation and Birth

Birth (from Habibi 1994 unless otherwise noted)

  • Mother isolates from the group prior to parturition
    • Birth takes place on narrow side passages of canyons, in rough terrain (Habibi 1997)
    • New-born kids remain hidden and are nursed for c. 2 weeks
  • Litter size
    • 1-3 young
      • 1 most typically
      • Twins common, c. 30% of females in one study
      • Triplets rare
  • Birth weight
    • c. 1.5-3.0 kg (3.3-6.6 lb), based on weight of individuals born under managed care at San Diego Zoo Global (ZIMS 2014)

Gestation

  • c. 150 days, one wild population (Levy and Bernadsky 1991)
    • 150-163 days in managed care (Harrison 1968)
    • Aggression by females towards males and juveniles as pregnancy advances; to the point of intolerance (Habibi 1997)

Life Stages

Infants (kids) (from Habibi 1994 unless otherwise noted)

  • Care
    • Begin solid food at 2-4 weeks (Hayssen et al. 1993)
    • Weaned by 6 months
    • Kids typically follow mother until she is ready to give birth
    • Crèche behavior in some populations
      • A few adult females coral and supervise numerous kids (Levy and Bernadsky 1991)
        • "Nurseries" at Ein Gedi, Israel, are supervised by a few adult females tending large assemblages of kids (P Alkon personal communication)
        • Behavior of mothers dependent on population location
          • In the Negev Highlands, ibex kids tended and suckled only by their own mothers; returning female repels "alien" kids
      • Likely form as kids accidentally tumble into steep-walled canyons (Mott 2013)
  • Development
    • Locomotor skills
      • Stand within hours of birth (Mott 2013)
      • Jump in the first day of life (Mott 2013)
      • Walk efficiently within a few days of birth
        • Follow mother once capable
        • Remain near mother up to 8 weeks

Subadult

  • Males
    • Remain with natal (birth) group until c. 3-4 years of age (Alkon 2013; Gross et al. 1995)

Adult

  • Males
    • Smaller (younger) individuals live separate from groups of large, fully mature adult males (Gross et al. 1995)
    • Typically reproduce at later ages; compared to females (Shackleton 1997)
  • Females
    • Reproductive by c. 2 years of age (Alkon 2013)

Longevity

In managed care (from Mott 2013)

  • Median life expectancy
    • Females: 11.1 years
    • Males: 9.9 years
  • Oldest individuals
    • c. 22 years, a female at the San Antonio Zoo
    • c. 19 years, a male at the Los Angeles Zoo

In the wild (from Alkon 2013)

  • Short lifespan
  • Rarely >12 years
    • Even in protected areas

Mortality

Predation (from Alkon 2013 unless otherwise noted)

  • Africa
    • Leopard (Panthera pardus)
  • Arabian Peninsula
    • Gray wolf (Canis lupus) and leopard (though extremely rare - subspecies critically endangered)
  • Sinai Peninsula
    • Leopard, gray wolf, striped hyena (Hyaena hyaena) (Gross et al. 1995)

Ibex Kids

ibex and kid

Infants, known as kids, remain near their mothers for nearly 2 months after birth. Most are weaned around 6 months of age.

Image credit: © P Asman and J Lenoble from Flickr. Some rights reserved.

Page Citations

Alkon (2013)
Gross et al. (1995)
Habibi (1994)
Habibi (1997)
Harrison (1968)
Hayssen et al. (1993)
Levy and Bernadsky (1991)
Mott (2013)
Shackleton (1997)
Shkedy and Saltz (200)
ZIMS (2014)

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