Capra pyrenaicaSpanish ibex

Geographic Range

Capra pyrenaica is found in the Carzorla-Segura and Eastern Sierra Nevada mountain ranges on the Iberian Peninsula, Spain. (Grzimek, 1990)


Spanish ibex live in mountainous terrain generally above 800m. They prefer forested areas with rock outcroppings, coniferous trees, and deciduous trees (including Holm oaks). Forests with multiple strata in the canopy are preferred. The lower canopy strata provide shade cover to escape heat during mid-day. (Escos, 1992)

  • Range elevation
    800 (low) m
    2624.67 (low) ft

Physical Description

Spanish ibex are generally brownish to grayish in color. They measure about 65-75cm tall at the shoulder, are 100-140 cm long, and weigh 35-80 kg. Tail lenghth is 10-15 cm. Males are larger than females. Both sexes have horns. The horns of males are much larger and better developed than those of females. Horns of the males reach 75 cm or more in length and curve back over their heads. (Grzimek, 1990)

  • Range mass
    35 to 80 kg
    77.09 to 176.21 lb
  • Range length
    100 to 140 cm
    39.37 to 55.12 in


See reproduction.


Males compete to mate with females by head butting.

Breeding occurs from November through December, peaking in the first half of December. Females in estrus signal to males that they are ready to mate by producing certain pheromones. during the rut, males battle with each other for the right to mate by butting heads. The gestation period of C. pyrenaica is 161-168 days. The peak birthing period is in mid-May. Females breed every year and typically have 1-2 young per year. Females often find a remote, inaccessible location with thick brush for birthing. After giving birth, females and young congregate in groups. Males are full grown and reach sexual maturity at age three. Females are full grown and reach sexual maturity at age 1.5. (Alvarez, 1990; Alados, 1988; Grizmek, 1990)

  • Breeding season
    mating occurs from November through December, and females typically gice birth in mid-May.
  • Range number of offspring
    1 to 2
  • Average number of offspring
  • Range gestation period
    5.37 to 5.6 months
  • Average gestation period
    5.485 months
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (female)
    1.5 to 3 years
  • Range age at sexual or reproductive maturity (male)
    1.5 to 3 years

Females care for the precocial young (Nowak, 1990)


Spanish ibex can live 12-16 years in the wild. (Grzimek, 1990)


Spanish ibex exhibit herding behavior. Males and females with young are segregated into separate groups during most of the year. The young of the year generally travel in the center of the group for protection from predators. Females tend to be solitary during the birthing season, but join the herd latter. In the fall, mixed sex herds of adults separate from mixed sex herds of juveniles. In the adult herds, one dominant male and up to several subordinate males associate with multiple females. There is a strict dominance of hierarchy among the males, and only the dominant male breeds. The dominant male defends his territory and herd of females from other males. Males form the hierarchy and defend their territory by aggressive posturing and fighting by butting heads. After the breeding season, the adults again segregate into herds of males and females. (Grzimek, 1990; Alvarez, 1990)

Communication and Perception

Food Habits

Spanish ibex feed primarily by browsing. Their main forage is Holm oak (Quercus ilex). They browse these oaks as well as feed on the acorns. They also feed on forbs (5% of diet) and grasses (10% of diet). Forage of forbs and grasses is selected more in spring and early summer. (Garcia-Gonzales, 1992; Martinez, 1988)

  • Plant Foods
  • leaves
  • seeds, grains, and nuts


Adult Spanish ibex have no natural predators except humans. The young are susceptible to predation by eagles and foxes. When danger is detected, usually by sight or smell, an alarm whistle is given and the herd flees in columns led by an adult male or female. (Grzimek, 1990)

Ecosystem Roles

Because of its feeding behavior, C. pyrenaica influences succession of plants in its habitat. It also is a primary consumer, converting the energy stored in plants to a form which is then available to its predators.

  • Ecosystem Impact
  • creates habitat

Economic Importance for Humans: Positive

Spanish ibex are prized as trophy game animals. The flesh is considered a delicacy. They are important for tourism, bringing many people to the parks on the Iberian Peninsula. (Grzimek, 1990)

  • Positive Impacts
  • food
  • body parts are source of valuable material
  • ecotourism

Economic Importance for Humans: Negative

Spanish ibex potentially compete with grazing livestock. (Gortazac, 2000)

Conservation Status

Conservation efforts are being focused on habitat preservation and restoration and looking at competition with introduced species such red deer, like those introduced into Carzorla-Segura park. (Grzimek, 1990)


Dillon Blaha (author), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Chris Yahnke (editor), University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point.



living in the northern part of the Old World. In otherwords, Europe and Asia and northern Africa.

World Map


young are born in a relatively underdeveloped state; they are unable to feed or care for themselves or locomote independently for a period of time after birth/hatching. In birds, naked and helpless after hatching.

bilateral symmetry

having body symmetry such that the animal can be divided in one plane into two mirror-image halves. Animals with bilateral symmetry have dorsal and ventral sides, as well as anterior and posterior ends. Synapomorphy of the Bilateria.


uses smells or other chemicals to communicate

dominance hierarchies

ranking system or pecking order among members of a long-term social group, where dominance status affects access to resources or mates


humans benefit economically by promoting tourism that focuses on the appreciation of natural areas or animals. Ecotourism implies that there are existing programs that profit from the appreciation of natural areas or animals.


animals that use metabolically generated heat to regulate body temperature independently of ambient temperature. Endothermy is a synapomorphy of the Mammalia, although it may have arisen in a (now extinct) synapsid ancestor; the fossil record does not distinguish these possibilities. Convergent in birds.

female parental care

parental care is carried out by females


union of egg and spermatozoan


an animal that mainly eats leaves.


A substance that provides both nutrients and energy to a living thing.


forest biomes are dominated by trees, otherwise forest biomes can vary widely in amount of precipitation and seasonality.


an animal that mainly eats seeds


An animal that eats mainly plants or parts of plants.

internal fertilization

fertilization takes place within the female's body


having the capacity to move from one place to another.


This terrestrial biome includes summits of high mountains, either without vegetation or covered by low, tundra-like vegetation.

native range

the area in which the animal is naturally found, the region in which it is endemic.


having more than one female as a mate at one time

seasonal breeding

breeding is confined to a particular season


reproduction that includes combining the genetic contribution of two individuals, a male and a female


associates with others of its species; forms social groups.


uses touch to communicate


that region of the Earth between 23.5 degrees North and 60 degrees North (between the Tropic of Cancer and the Arctic Circle) and between 23.5 degrees South and 60 degrees South (between the Tropic of Capricorn and the Antarctic Circle).


defends an area within the home range, occupied by a single animals or group of animals of the same species and held through overt defense, display, or advertisement


reproduction in which fertilization and development take place within the female body and the developing embryo derives nourishment from the female.


Alados, C., J. Escos. 1988. Parturation Dates and Mother-Kid Behavior in Spanish Ibex (*Capra prenaica*) in Spain. Journal of Mammalogy, 69(1): 172-175.

Alvarez, F. 1990. Horns and Fighting in Male Spanish Ibex, *Capra pyrenaica*. Journal of Mammalogy, 71(4): 608-616.

Escos, J, , C. L. Alados. 1992. Habitat Preference of Spanish Ibex and Other Ungulates in Sierras De Cazorla Y Segura (Spain). Mammalia, 56(3): 393-406.

Garcia-Gonzales, R., P. Cuartas. 1992. Food Habits of *Capra pyrenaica*, *Cervus elaphus* and *Dama dama* in the Cazorla Sierra (Spain). Mammalia, 56(2): 195-202.

Gortazar, C., J. Herrero, R. Villafuerte, J. Marco. 2000. Historical examination of the status of large mammals in Aragon, Spain. Mammalia, 64(4): 411-422.

Grzimek, B. 1990. Grzimek’s Encyclopedia of Mammals. New York: McGraw-Hill Publishing Company.

Martinez, T. 1988. The Food Habits of the Spanish Wild Goat (*Capra Pyrenaica*) in the Sierra De Tejeda (Granada). Mammalia, 52(2): 284-285.

Nowak, R. 1991. Walker's Mammals of the World, Fifth Edition. Baltimore, London: The John Hopkin's University Press.