The chamois is a mammal that lives in the mountainous Alpine, Jura and Pyrenees regions of France.
The chamois reaches about 75 - 80 cm in height and weigh up to 60 kg. This weight is at the end of summer - during winter the chamois can lose up to 50% of its body weight. It is very well adapted to the mountain conditions in which it lives, and has very good climbing abilities, aided by the ability to separate the two 'toes' of each hoof, allowing greater ability to grip.
The chamois lives up to 25 years, although 15-16 is more common. The main factor restricting the lifespan of the chamois is his teeth, which slowly wear out until the chamois can no longer feed effectively.
The identifying features of the chamois include the short, slightly curled, horns (note: the horns are kept all year around); and the black stripes underneath the eyes on an otherwise white face. The body hair can be grey (winter) or brown (summer).
The females and young live in herds, but the males stay largely solitary except at mating season.
Preferred diet is grasses, seeds and flowers although in winter even tree bark may be eaten. Surprisingly the chamois prefer to live in the more plentiful lower regions but it is mans presence that forces them higher up the mountains.
Note: a chamois has been reported as being seen very close to the summit of Mont Blanc, a testament to their hardiness and climbing skills, if not to their common sense!
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