Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
sdzglibrarybanner San Diego Zoo Global Library

Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana) Fact Sheet: Diet & Feeding

Pronghorn (Antilocapra americana)


  • Opportunistic herbivores; browse and graze; are "dainty" feeders choosing a wide variety of plants (O'Gara 1978)
  • Favor succulent, high-protein vegetation such as:
    • forbs
    • shrubs (rabbitbrush, sagebrush, bitterbrush, Prunus sp.)
    • grasses (bunchgrass, bluegrass, bottlebrush, ricegrass, squirreltail)
    • cacti (Opuntia sp.)
  • Grass makes up only about 12 percent of diet; Pronghorn during a Montana winter starved on grasslands but survived in sagebrush habitats. ( O'Gara 1978)


  • Pronghorn are ruminants with a four-chambered stomach; in ruminants, bacteria, protozoa, and fungi help digest tough plant cellulose
  • During northern winters, Pronghorn are adept at pawing through
  • Elongated head and pointed mouth parts aid in gathering of leaves and flowers, which are more nutritious that stems and twigs
  • Peak foraging activity at dawn and dusk
  • Spend 40 to 60 percent of time feeding
  • Daily foraging movements of a herd vary from 0.1 to 0.8 km in the spring and summer to 3.2 to 9.7 km in the fall and winter
  • Pronghorn practice forage switching from season to season to optimize dietary benefits from the most preferred, nutritious, and succulent species available
  • 38 Pronghorn survive on the same amount of food required for one cow; 43.5 Pronghorn consumed the same amount of grass as one sheep (O'Gara 1978)

"Dainty" Feeder

newborn pronghorn being bottle fed by keeper at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

A newborn pronghorn being bottle-fed at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

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

Page Citations

Byers (1997)
Hansen & Clark (1977)
O'Gara (1978)
O’Gara & Yoakum (2004)

SDZG Library Links