Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Chamois (Rupicapra tragus), a gregarious goat-like antelope, the sole species of the genus, ranging over the mountain systems of Central and Southern Europe into Western Asia. It was formerly much more numerous, and is now chiefly confined in Europe to the Bavarian and Styrian Alps, though some small herds still exist in the Swiss Alps. The male stands about 24 inches at the shoulder, and the female is somewhat smaller. The coat in summer is brownish-yellow, with a dark dorsal stripe, which is lost in winter, owing to the hair on the body becoming darker. The head is yellowish, and the hue deepens from the muzzle upwards. Both sexes have horns; these are about seven inches long, black, and cylindrical, parallel for some distance, then curving sharply backwards at the tip, and at the base of each is a peculiar gland, the function of which is not known. The horns are sold as souvenirs of Alpine travel, and are often used as the heads of alpenstocks. The voice is a goat-like bleat, but the sentinel gives a shrill whistle to alarm the herd when danger is near. The female bears rarely more than one at a birth, in the spring; the old males are for the most part solitary. These animals are remarkably agile, and have a peculiar power of ascending and descending precipices; their senses are also developed to a high degree, so that chamois-hunting is a very difficult and dangerous pursuit. The flesh is highly esteemed, and the skin yields the original chamois, or skammoy leather, which, however, is now also made from the skin of other animals.