Global Range: Native to southwestern Asia. Domesticated worldwide. Feral populations in British Isles, Mediterranean islands, Canada, Chile, Argentina, Venezuela, Australia, New Zealand, Bonin, Galapagos, Seychelles, Juan Fermnandez Islands, other oceanic islands, on all main islands in Hawaii (except Niihau and Lanai), California, the southwestern U.S., and Puerto Rico (Grubb, in Wilson and Reeder 1993).
Domestic goats, Capra hircus, most likely descended from C. aegagrus which is from Central Asia. Since the domestication of this species, goats have been spread all over the world by humans. C. hircus requires grass for grazing, but can survive on very thin deposits of grass. Therefore, the only areas C. hircus cannot inhabit are tundras, deserts, and aquatic habitats. There are some feral groups on Hawaii and on other islands.
Because of its long history of domestication, there are many different breeds of C. hircus. Different breeds can have many different attributes. Typically, adults weigh 45 kg and be 64 cm tall. C. hircus is 1150 to 1700 mm in length. However, weight can vary between 9 and 113 kg and height can vary between 26 and 107 cm in different breeds.
Capra hircus is sexually dimorphic. Males have a beard, horns, a rank odor, and are generally larger than the females. The odor stems from sex glands. The horns are hollow, and grow either scimitar or corkscrew. The hair is generally straight, however some breeds have a wool undercoat. Coat color varies, and can be black, white, red, and brown. Color patterns include solid color, spotted, striped, blended shades, and facial stripes. The nose can be either straight or convex. European breeds have erect ears and Indian breeds do not. The LaMancha breed has no external ear. The tail is short and curved upward.
The average heart rate for C. hircus is 83 beats per minute, and the body temperature is 103.6 degrees F. C. hircus is born with 6 lower incisors and by 4 weeks old have a full set of milk teeth consisting of the 6 lower incisors and 24 molars. The upper jaw does not develop milk teeth, rather it has bony plates to articulate with the lower teeth.
Range mass: 9 to 113 kg.
Average mass: 45 kg.
Range length: 1150 to 1170 mm.
Other Physical Features: endothermic ; homoiothermic; bilateral symmetry
Sexual Dimorphism: male larger; ornamentation
Haenlein, G. 1992. "All About Goats" (On-line). National Dairy Database. Accessed February 03, 2004 at http://www.inform.umd.edu/EdRes/Topic/AgrEnv/ndd/goat/ALL_ABOUT_GOATS.html.
Capra hircus is a domesticated animal and has been raised in almost all habitats. Goats do require grass for grazing, but can thrive in areas of thin growth that would not support other grazers such as sheep or cows. Also, C. hircus can be kept in dry lots as long as they are constantly fed by humans. Some sort of clean and ventilated shelter is necessary, but it does not have to be extravagant. For sleeping, C. hircus prefers a bedded area of at least 15 feet. Goats require exercise; optimally a goat should have at least 25 square feet per animal for this. Due to a well-developed herding instinct, C. hircus prefers to be in groups of 2 or more. As a domesticated species, C. hircus is very susceptible to predation. Therefore, it is best situated in a fenced in area. Feral groups are found usually in rugged mountain country, rocky crags, and alpine meadows.