Why Do Rams Headbutt? Everything You Need To Know About Rams

Few things are as perplexing as rams headbutting each other. Two-horned sheep will clash their skulls together, seemingly for no reason out of the blue. As it turns out, there is a reason—and it’s all about dominance and mating.

When two rams face off, they try to measure up to one another. By head butting each other, they determine who is the stronger and more dominant individual. 

The ram that can withstand the other’s headbutt without backing down is considered the alpha. Rams are known for their tendency to headbutt, but… 

Why do rams headbutt? 

One reason may be that they are simply trying to show dominance over their territory or other rams. Headbutting can also be a way to show anger or frustration. In some cases, it may even be a way for rams to communicate.

If Careless, A Ram Can Headbutt You As Well.

We all know that rams are gentle and timid animals. Right? WRONG. They can be quite aggressive and dangerous if they feel threatened. 

Like other sheep and goats, rams have a pair of horns on their head that they use to defend themselves and their territory.

If you come across a ram in the wild, it’s important to be aware of its potential for danger. Rams can weigh up to 200 pounds, so they can easily knock you down if they headbutt you. Be sure to give them plenty of space, and never get too close to their horns.

Ewe May Also Headbutt To Protect Their Young Ones.

While most people think of ewe as meek and mild creatures, they can be quite fierce when protecting their young. She may headbutt you if you get too close to her lamb!

This behavior is quite common among sheep and other herd animals. When a predator approaches, the whole herd will often act as one to protect the weakest and most vulnerable members. 

This instinctive behavior helps keep the herd safe from danger. So the next time you see a mother sheep and her lamb, remember that they may be a lot tougher than they look!

Is Concussion Or Brain Damage A Plausible Consequence Of Headbutting?

Mating season for the rams is an interesting time. You will see two or more rams walk away from each other, then turn around and charge into each other. 

They can sprint up to 35 Km/hr, and the collision is like a motorcycle hitting a wall at 70 Km/hr. Their horns and head take in all this force. Their horns grow throughout their lives, forming rings. 

These high impacts are not survivable for humans. So how do rams survive after hitting their heads repeatedly?

Rams have a series of adaptations that protect them from extended head trauma. The first and most important is their horns. 

The hones have keratin on the outside and a bony core. Keratin is the same material as human nails, and it is softer than bone.

Keratin on the outside cushions most of the impact when the rams smash into each other. This reduces the pressure each impact exerts on the skull. The horns keep growing, and the keratin layer gets thicker as they reach adulthood.

The skull itself is very thick and tough to resist fractures from high-impact collisions. This allows the rams to hit each other without having life-threatening injuries. The most impressive part of their adaptation is their brain. 

Concussions happen when the brain hits the inside of the brain cavity. Bighorns can keep their brains from sloshing around using two adaptations. The first adaptation is the size of the brain in comparison to the skull cavity.

Their brain has a tight fit with the skull, so it doesn’t have room to shake on impact. The second adaptation is that they send more blood to the brain before impact. The extra blood inflates the blood vessels around the brain.

This blood creates a cushion that keeps the ram’s brain from hitting the skull due to impact. Instead of hitting the skull, the brain rests on the blood cushion. This is why rams don’t ever get concussions from their rough lifestyles.

Rams Headbutting In Mating Seasons

You can hear the echoes of epic battles in the Rockies during mating season. The contestants are bighorn sheep, rams looking to make a statement. 

The price of this war is mating rights with the local ewes. Several rams are interested, and there is only one way to get the best.

Mating season is a rough time in ram’s lives. The males compete for the right to mate. They constantly fight to shift or reinforce rank, and there are always new contestants each season. Their best weapon is the horn, which weighs up to 30 pounds.

These horns are literal battering rams, and their noises are all you will hear during mating season. In spring, smaller rams begin butting heads in mock battles. These battles will develop a social order that will control all their lives.

Most of the year, Rams live in bachelor groups, but they hold a strict hierarchy. Age and size are what mostly control the hierarchy. Their lives have a fine focus, and they have been preparing for the mating seasons all year long.

A male can smell the female’s urine to know if she’s ready to mate. The ram will tilt its head back to take in the female’s scent. This position allows her pheromones to get to a sense organ in his mouth.

Females are only available for 48 hours, and the hierarchy collapses in these two days. Higher-ranking males can select and guard females in a herd. Youngsters often are willing to risk it all and challenge the dominant male for mating rights.

At this point, the head butting begins. The males will walk away from each other and return with tremendous force. You can hear the sounds of their horns knocking from a long distance out.

This will form a new hierarchy or enforce the old one. If the dominant male can beat all challengers, he’ll stay on top. 

He can choose a female to mate within the herd. Sometimes a challenger might win, and a new hierarchy will come up.

Sometimes rams avoid fighting and use other tricks to achieve their goal. Some pretend to graze to throw off the opponents to get to the females and mate. Sometimes dominant rams will team up to fend off other prospects to increase their chances.

Two on one is often a good tactic. It allows shots from behind and the sides to soften a ram up. The ewes watch the fights and wait for the winner to mate. The winner will have to woe the female to get her to mate with him.

The rams will pursue the ewe up mountain slopes to prove his strength. The other males might try to challenge again. This goes on for about two days until the female finally mates.

Fun Facts About Rams

There are a lot of fun facts about rams, and there is always something new to learn about them. They live on many different terrains, from mountains to deserts. Let us look at some fun facts you might not know about your furry tough-headed friend.

For one, they have very large horns. The horns of a male ram can grow up to three feet long. Rams use their horns for dominance displays, fighting and protecting their territory. This is most common during the mating season. 

Rams are also very social animals. They live in herds of around 10-30 animals and spend a lot of time grazing and playing together. 

These groups have a sophisticated hierarchy that forms when they are still young and maintains till they grow old.

Rams are the only type of sheep that exhibit male-dominant hierarchies. The dominant ram will monopolize the resources for the herd and mate with all the females. Unless another ram challenges him and wins the fight, it will have mating rights.

Ram, bighorn sheep are well known for their huge horns. When full-grown, these horns can weigh as much as 13.6 kg. 

This makes the horn heavier than all the bones in the ram’s body combined. This makes them more deserving of their name. 

Rams are excellent climbers, which is important for mountainous environments. They can walk and feed on cliffs without falling. Their hooves have special split designs that increase grip and balance. 

Rams occupy a huge range, and their diet changes depending on the environment. They eat grasses in the northern parts of their habitat. In the dry Mexican hills, they might eat cacti or anything else they can find on the hills.

Conclusion

Why do rams headbutt? You understand that headbutting is an important part of establishing the hierarchy for rams. Sometimes ewes will headbutt people or animals to protect their young. They smash into each other with 30-pound skulls to produce loud noises.

Winners of these fights end up dominating the herd or mating with females. Headbutting is the backbone of ram’s social hierarchy. They have adapted over the years to avoid injuries from their rough lives. This ensures they don’t get concussions or brain damage.

John Taylor
John Taylor is a seasoned writer with more than 10 years of experience as a professional. He has written professionally for many different organizations, such as The Atlantic and the Boston Globe. John can write on any topic you need him to cover, from business writing to creative nonfiction pieces. His portfolio speaks for his skills; he's not only an experienced writer but also an excellent editor and researcher!

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