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Takin (Budorcas spp.) Fact Sheet: Behavior & Ecology

Activity Cycle

  • Daily pattern of herd of 300 takins at 3,000 m (9843 ft): (Bailey 1912) cited in Neas & Hoffman (1987):
    • Spent nights in or near a hot spring, drinking and browsing on trees
    • Spend days in dense vegetative cover; come into open spaces only in cloudy or foggy weather
  • In Sichuan and Gansu Provinces, China, Sichuan takins (B. t. tibetana) don't forage midday (Schaller 1986)
    • Change pattern in seasons of scarcity and are also active midday
    • When ground covered with snow, rest standing, bodies turned broadside to sun

Movements and dispersal

Migration

  •  Move seasonally up and down slope (Schaller 1977)
    • Golden takin (B. t. bedfordi) migrates 4 times up and down slope between seasons in Quinling Mountains, China (Zeng 2008)
      • Summer: at highest attitude (more than 2,300 m or 7,546 ft)
      • Spring: at lowest altitude
      • Autumn: intermediate - higher than spring, lower than winter
      • Winter: also intermediate - but slightly higher than autumn
      • Pattern unusual in that animals move higher (rather than lower) than autumn during winter
      • Perhaps go upwards in winter to reach sunny slopes free of snow (Neas & Hoffmann 1987)
    • Sichuan takin (B. t. tibetana) move between low valleys and high forests (Schaller 1986)
      • Low valleys: late Sept. until April
      • Forest above valleys: summer into autumn
    • Follow well worn paths in search of salt and perhaps other minerals. (Neas & Hoffmann 1987)

Social Behavior

  • Takins are gregarious
    • Rare for forest dwelling ungulates to have sociality
    • European Bison (Bison bonasus) are another example of a social forest-dweller
  • Takins form unstable social groups, according to radio-collar tracking of golden takins (B. t. bedfordi) (Zeng et al 2002)
    • Core social unit is adult females with offspring of more than one generation
    • Females occupy 98% of all groups
    • More than half of takins observed were found in groups of 15 or more
    • Older males usually solitary until rutting season
    • Male groups often observed for Sichuan takins (B. t. tibetana) but not golden takins (B. t. bedfordi)
  • Schaller (1986) observed groups of 10-35 Sichuan takin, up to 100 individuals at times
  • Males in managed care dominant over females; females have dominate/subordinate relationships (Castillo 1993)
    • Dominant male, females, and calves live together with little conflict in managed care

Communication

Displays (Schaller 1977)

  • Males may sit like dogs
    • Similar sitting posture by mountain goats occurs after digging pits into which they urinate and defecate during rutting season
    • Takins not yet observed digging rutting pits
  • Head-down posture used often by males and females to threaten
    • Behavior also seen in mountain goats and tahrs
  • Intention to fight signaled:
    • Neck held rigidly horizontally
    • Head and horns hooked to side
    • May spar head to head (Estes 1959)
  • Members of the social goat/antelopes have wide repertoire of visual displays (Schaller 1986)
    • Social life depends on communication
    • Flexibility of these displays aids precise message-sending
    • Visual displays quite important for such non-vocal animals.

Vocalization

  • Utter a hoarse cough when alarmed or giving a warning
  • Low bellowing during rut
  • Other sounds:
    • Snort
    • Deep bugle-like note
    • Loud whistle through nose

Olfaction/Scent Marking

  •  Males and possibly females spray themselves with urine (Schaller 1977)
    • Males spray own forelegs, chest, and face
    • Females soak their tails
    • Pheromones in urine possibly convey sexual status and identity
  • Male licks female ano-genital region to detect estrus status (Neas & Hoffmann 1987)

Agonistic Behavior and Defense

  • Animals hook the air with horns and butt head to head. (Schaller 1977)

Territorial Behavior

  • Not known

Other Behaviors

Play

  •  Young frolic (Castillo 1990)
    • Jump straight into air, all four feet off ground
    • Leap forward off back limbs, front limbs tucked
    • Head butt

Interspecies Interactions

  • Snow leopards (Panthera pardus) may feed on young takins, but not adults (Schaller 1977)
  • Asiatic wild dogs (Cuon alpinus) may be predators also. (Schaller 1986)
  • Potential predators: Asiatic black bear (Ursus tibetanus), common leopard (Panthera pardus), perhaps tiger (Panthera tigris), wolf (Canis lupus)
  • Sichuan takins occupy habitats favored by giant pandas in Tangjiahe Natural Reserve, Sichuan Province, China (Schaller 1986)
    • Even though bamboo is readily available, takins consume little
  • Golden takins coexist with giant pandas, golden monkeys, serows, gorals, forest musk deer, black bear and leopards in Shaanxi Province, China at Foping Nature Reserve. (Zeng et al 2002)
  • Tufted deer (Elaphodus) and muskdeer (Moschus) occupy same habitats (Schaller 1986)
  • Probably compete with bharal (Pseudois nayaur), serow (Capricornis) and goral (Nemorhaedus) (Neas & Hoffmann 1987)

Locomotion

(Neas & Hoffmann 1987)

  • Walk with head low, swaying from side to side.
  • Normally slow and deliberate movements
    • Climb sheer rocky areas slowly
    • Can leap nimbly on rough slopes
    • Don't "spring" like mountain goats
  • Sleep with front feet extended, head resting atop, like dogs.
  • Run for short distance and resume feeding when disturbed
  • Excellent climbers

Takins of All Ages

Group of adult and young takin

Takin are gregarious, forming groups of 15 individuals or more.

Here we see a calf, juvenile, and two adults.

Image credit: © San Diego Zoo Global. All rights reserved.

Page Citations

Bailey (1912)
Neas & Hoffmann (1987)
Schaller (1977, 1986)
Zeng et al. (2002)

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