The only mammal living at the highest altitude, the yak is a threatened, near-endangered species. Explore the article to know more interesting facts and amazing information about yaks.

Facts About Yak

A longhaired bovine, similar to an ox, the yak is found throughout the Himalayan region of South Central Asia, the Tibetan Plateau and North Mongolia. Also known as the “grunting ox”, it has short, thick legs and humped shoulders. The large, up-curved horns are 3 feet long and the animal has a thick shaggy coat that hangs down to the ankles, providing it warmth. The yaks are domesticated for a number of sources, such as milk, butter, meat, wool, dung and leather. Their coarse outer-hair is used in weaving ropes, belts and bags. The animal is also employed for pulling heavy farm machines and transporting large loads through the mountain passes. Yak milk is high in fat; hence, it is processed into cheese, yoghurt and butter. To know some more interesting facts and amazing information on yaks, explore the article further.
Facts About Yak
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Chordata
Subphylum: Vertebrata
Class: Mammalia
Order: Artiodactyla
Family: Bovidae
Subfamily: Bovinae
Genus: Bos
Species: B. grunniens
Height: 6.6-7.2 feet
Weight: 661-2,200 lb
Lifespan: Up to 26 years
Diet: Grass, herbs, mosses, lichens, tubers.
Habitat: Alpine meadows and open hills.
Age of Sexual Maturity: 738 days
Gestation Period: 274 days
Number of Offspring: One every year
Interesting & Amazing Information About Yaks 
  • There are two types of yaks, namely, the wild yak and the domesticated yak.
  • The respiratory rate of a yak increases with heat and at low altitudes, while at higher, cooler climates, the rate decreases. This helps the animal adjust to the varying climates.
  • A yak can climb an altitude as high as 20,000 feet, the highest elevation of any mammal’s habitat.
  • The large lung capacity of a yak enables it to inhale lots of oxygen.
  • The male yak is known as “Yak and the female yak as “Nak” or “Dri”, by the Sherpas of Nepal.
  • The wild yaks are black or brown in color, while the domesticated ones can be found in white.
  • The domesticated yak is smaller and has a less shaggy coat, as compared to the wild one.
  • The wild yak can survive a temperature as low as -40°F in winter.
  • Even at freezing temperatures, a yak likes to bathe in lakes and rivers. Its warm coat provides insulation through a thick outer coating of long hair and a dense inner coating of matted, shorter fur.
  • The digestive system of a yak is an internal heater, allowing food to digest at a temperature of 104 °F, keeping it warm in extremely cold conditions.
  • A wild yak reaches its full size only between 6 to 8 years.
  • Yaks can be seen in herds of 10 to 100, comprising of mostly females. Only a few male yaks can be found per herd.
  • A yak has more than one stomach, which it uses to absorb all the nutrients from the plants it eats.
  • The animal uses its firm, dense horns to break through the snow and get to the plants buried beneath. The horns are also used in defense.
  • Yaks breed in the month of September and after a gestation period of 9 months, give birth to a single calf. In rare cases, twins are also born.
  • The yak dung is dried and used as fuel in the treeless Tibetan plateaus.
  • A yak can produce two to three pounds of under-hair each spring, which can be sold in the market up to $16 per ounce, when spun.
  • North American yaks are divided into 5 categories: black, trim (black with some white trim), royal (black and white pied with a white blaze face), golden and woolly.
  • A mature yak can graze as much as 6-10 pounds of grass hay per day. It alternates its day between browsing and lying quietly chewing its cud.
  • The domestic yak can be found in large populations, while the wild yak is less in number, due to loss of habitat and extensive hunting.

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