Would you like to learn some interesting facts about the buffalo? Well, you came to the right place! On this occasion, we will discuss some aspects about this imposing animal that has a fascinating history. As usual, let’s start with the general information about it before jumping into the interesting facts.
The buffalo, also known as American bison, is a North American ungulate. There are two subspecies of buffalos: plains bison and wood bison. Plains bison are usually smaller than wood bison, but in general, the weight of a buffalo can go from 318 kg to 1,000 kg.
The coats of buffalos changes according to the season. They are heavier and darker during winter, having a dark brown color. Towards summer, their coats become lighter and become light brown.
Both males and females have corns. They are curved and can grow up to 60 cm long.
Historically, the area buffalos inhabited is called the Great bison belt. The belt started in Alaska and finished in the Gulf of Mexico. The main reason why bison chose this zone is that grass grew during spring and summer, and that is the main food they consume. Nowadays, they still live in this area, but as there are fewer buffalos than before, so they don’t cover great extensions of territory.
Buffalos can be found in grasslands, valleys, plains, scrublands, and semiarid lands.
Buffalos are herbivores, and the availability of food and water usually defines the habitat they choose. They are grazers, so their diet is basically composed of different types of grass and sedges. They actually spend a lot of time eating. They start the day by having a two-hour meal and after resting for a while they go find a new place to start eating again.
Buffalos also drink water on a daily basis, and if they are in colder regions, they consume snow.
Interesting Facts about the Buffalo
1. They were very close to extinction.
Buffalos lived throughout North America before the 19th century. Actually, there were around 60 million buffalos. They were often hunted by Native Americans. However, during the 1800s, professional hunters started to hunt them frequently. The government of the United States joined them in an attempt to reduce food sources for Native Americans.
The commerce of buffalos, the aggressive hunting, and the introduction of cattle diseases dramatically reduced their population in less than 100 years. It is estimated that by 1889 there were only 541 buffalos and by 1900 only 300.
2. Nowadays there are only 15,000 completely free buffalos.
During the 20th century, there were huge efforts to avoid the extinction of the American bison. Today there are around 550,000 buffalos. However, most of them live in private lands or in public lands that have fences and belong to the government for preservation. Only 15,000 of them live completely free without being confined to fences.
3. There are very few pure buffalos.
Another problem that came when they were nearly extinct was genetic diversity, as they were less than 1,000 buffalos. After this, they were officially considered as “cattle”, and hybridization started. The result is that most buffalos have domestic cattle genes.
At first, this isn’t evident, as hybrids are very similar to pure buffalos. However, there can be fertility issues among them. It is estimated that only between 12,000 and 15,000 American bison are pure.
4. Europeans tried to domesticate buffalos.
Although Native Americans hunted them for years, they weren’t able to domesticate buffalos. However, Europeans tried to make it but weren’t successful. Buffalos are temperamental and can be aggressive when provoked. Besides being really big and heavy, they can jump up to two meters and reach a speed of up to 64 km/h.
5. They are migratory.
Buffalos are constantly moving. During summer they always travel, and it is estimated that they usually travel 3.2 km daily. They choose the places they go depending on the variety of vegetation, water availability, and the number of insects.
6. Buffalos were very important for Native Americans.
Although they frequently hunted buffalos, Native Americans thought they were an important figure. Buffalos were often seen as a sacred. They were used in ceremonies, and the stories that included buffalos placed them on a spiritual level.
7. There’s a white buffalo.
White buffalos are extremely rare. Their fur is completely white, and the reason why this happens may vary. It could happen because they are a result of a buffalo mating with domestic cattle, so they inherit that characteristic. It could happen because they are albinos, often having vision and hearing problems, or leucistic, having blue eyes. There’s a four case, which corresponds to a condition in which buffalos are born white but start becoming brown when they are one or two years old.
I hope that you enjoyed learning more about buffalo facts. If you want to know more about other animals, visit animal facts page!