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December 11, 2021 3 min read


Ovibos moschatus muskox is close to serow, mountain goat, and chamois place in subfamily Caprinae. The animal gets its name due to its musky odor and its resemblance with cattle; ox.

General Characteristics:

Body Weight and Body Size:

The adult average body weight is about 410 kg. Males stand taller than females; males range from 6.6 to 8.2 ft, while females are 4.4 to 6.6 ft in length.

Body Shape and Body Color:

The body of muskox is barrel-shaped.

The body is covered with a thick brown hairy coat that reaches the feet. The muskox coat is soft and also has guard hairs. The coat may also have a mix of black and grey hues.

Underneath the coat is the thick wool “qiviut,” which provides insulation and is highly expensive and used for different purposes.


Both male and female musk oxen have horns. The horns are curved from the upward end and downward at the sides of the head. The male horns are more significant than the females. The horns are cream-colored with black tips.


It has been reported that muskoxen may have rotated teeth; some of them have peg-shaped teeth. The upper plate of the mouth is hard, which helps them eat because they lack the front teeth. 

Legs and Feet:

The muskox is a hoofed mammal with shorter stout legs covered with hairs. The legs of the musk ox are white.


Musk ox has a short tail which is almost concealed with hair.

Life Span:

In a wild environment, they can live up to 14 years, and in captivity, the lifespan is 20 years.


Muskox can run at a speed of 60km/h.

Habitat and Distributional Range:

Muskoxen are inhabitants of polar and terrestrial habitats. The musk ox is native to the Arctic tundra.

They are distributed to Greenland, Canada, Nunavut, Northwest Territories. The musk ox is introduced to Norway, Russia, Svalbard, Siberia, and reintroduced populations to Alaska, Yukon.

Diet of Muskox:

Muskox are ruminants and feed on 

  • Grasses
  • Sedges
  • Willows
  • Woody plants
  • Lichens
  • Mosses
  • Seeds
  • Herbs
  • Shrubs
  • Fungus

They store the fat to survive the winter season and also to conceive.

Predators of Muskox:

When they sense danger, they face their heads down with horns facing the predators; they headbutt the predator with horns. They remain in herds of at least 30. When danger approaches, they circulate together with their horns facing outward towards predators.

The predators of musk ox are

  • Arctic wolves
  • Dogs
  • Grizzly bears
  • Polar bears


Muskox doesn't hold territories females attain sexual maturity at the age of 1 to 4 years while males sexually mature at the age of 4 years. The mating season is from late August into September. The gestation period is 244–252 days. One calf of 11 kg is produced. The calves feed on females and are nursed for ten months to 1 year.

Behaviors of Muskox:

  • Musk ox bleats communicate with other members as they have well vocal cords.
  • Muskox also grunts and rumble, which can be heard from a distance.
  • To show dominance, males produce stomping, chasing, shoving, pushing.

  • The muskox marked their trails with secretion from preorbital glands.
  • Musk ox move their heads and horns on the ground to show themselves look bigger.
  • They also have a strong smell of urine that warns the competitors and helps in communication. 

Muskox Hunt:

The best season for musk ox hunting is the rutting season, as muskox gathers near the river or lakes for the rut. Late summer is the best time.

Muskox hunt can be 

  • Spring Hunt
  • Fall Hunt

Spring Hunt:

The spring muskox coat is the best, thick and clean as it survived the harsh winter. Spring hunting is usually done with the rifle. You can access the muskox region with snow machine rides.

Fall Hunt:

Fall muskox hunting offers bow hunting opportunities as rut season has just started, and you can closely approach the musk ox feeding on foliage. The muskoxen areas can easily be accessed by hiking, boat, or ATV.

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