This podcast episode we talk about the Bison! Relax, unwind, and join me in the prairies, where we learn all about North America's largest mammal.
This podcast episode we talk about the Bison! Relax, unwind, and join me in the prairies, where we learn all about North America's largest mammal.
To contact Stef Wolfe you can:
If you would like to learn more, the resources used in this episode are listed below:
For exclusive content like the Extinct and Mythical Animal Mini-Series, go to the Patreon by clicking here.
Rock some awesome podcast-themed merch by clicking here.
You can also check out informative blog posts on relaxwithanimalfacts.com/blog.
Hosted on Acast. See acast.com/privacy for more information.
hello everyone welcome back to relax with animal facts I am staff wolf and today I am going to be learning with you about our furry scaly or possibly even slimy friends and in today's case it is going to be a hairy friend of ours because we are covering the %HESITATION so wonderful bison this is a very special listener episode dedicated to row and and Tina who wrote in and requested this mighty creature for all of the resources and how to write into the show those things will be in the description and at the end of the episode and if you want exclusive podcast episodes you can go to the relax with animal facts patron on page that is also in the description now as we are preparing to go see some mighty bison I ask only two things from you one is to make sure that your shoe laces are double knotted for our trip and the other is to play the part of the Jello if you are carrying any tension in your head neck lakes whatever it to be we don't really need all of that to where we are going to do your best to relax and let your mind journey with me into the plains where we are going to get up close and personal with the bison so as we are walking and stepping over the horny blonde dish grass the first thing that you might notice about this creature is that they are big the bison is infamous in a sense because they are number one in terms of size in North America they are north America's largest mammal and though we use the word buffalo interchangeably with bison it is important to note that they are distinct from one another so while our semantic usage of the term buffalo and bison might refer to the same things in our heads biologically that is not the case so the bison is either of two different species of hawks like grazing mammals that comprise the genus bison if you've listened to some of the previous podcasts in which we've covered creatures like the highland cattle you might be able to guess the family they are part of the Bovi day family these two species or the American bison and the European bison today we are both holding the American bison which is also known as the plains of buffalo but we could have gone to perhaps somewhere like Switzerland to look at the European bison so when we refer to the American bison as the buffalo or planes buffalo as we learned earlier they are distinct from true buffalo that being those of the Cape buffalo and to the water buffalo but it is a term that seems to be culturally relevant as that is what they are cold in America so if I ever do slip up and called them the buffalo you know why the American bison specifically which has the scientific name bison bison is going to be different from domestic cattle or oxen in a few different ways it has a very large and heavy head they have this large home at their shoulders that is quite pronounced heavy four quarters and they will sport fourteen ribs instead of the thirteen better found in cattle into the %HESITATION so wise American bison will often times form a beard through those long hairs on their neck head and shoulders this is what gives them that a long beard like figure there have been cases in which a white bison is born though they are exceptionally rare both male and female Bisons have horns and so you cannot tell them apart just by whether they have horns or not in both cases the horns are short and curved upwards but the female will often have a smaller pair of horns while these horns and do not necessarily betrayed male or female they do tell something about H. the horns will begin to come out to around two years old and then they go into a stage known as spike corn this is where the horns will develop this angle specifically about forty five degrees and this will last until they're about four years old while the initially start with that very dark black color they will turn gray over time as they age now if you are a real good detective you might be able to tell whether some of the bison in this hurt are older than all others by how blunt and short the tips of their horns R. after about the age of eight those spikes will start to wear down and become more blunted and even continuously shorten now let us get back to their sheer size for a moment they look as though they shake the very earth upon which the tread indeed do not bear the title of north America's largest mammal for no reason a typical bowl is between eleven and twelve and a half feet long that is about three hundred and thirty five to three hundred and eighty one centimeters decals which are the female version of the bison are going to be slightly smaller being about seven and a half to ten and a half feet long that's about two hundred and twenty eight to three hundred and twenty centimeters they will often be standing at just about six feet tall at the shoulder again a hundred and eighty three centimeters for my U. K. listeners to these creatures are quite stocky and compact the larger of the subspecies of bison that will weigh more than two thousand pounds which is just over nine hundred kilos so we can see how they got this gold medal of being the largest mammal in North America but just because the %HESITATION large doesn't mean they are by any stretch of the imagination slow or clumsy they can run up to forty miles per hour about sixty four kilometers per hour they can jump up to six feet vertically and very quickly pivot to combat predators this is an agile creature a six feet vertical jump is impressive enough but when you are lifting two thousand pounds off of the ground that is a monumental feat with quick and sharp turns this absolute behemoth makes a formidable piece of pray for any sort of wild animal attempting to make a meal out of them one unique thing about the bison is that it does not to burn extra calories in order to stay warm during those below zero temperatures those temperatures that are so indicative of Canadian weather and as a Canadian I do not mean to brag but the bison is Manitoba's official mammal but moving on the reason they can stay so warm is of course because of their abundantly thick coats it provides them with really solid insulation from the harsh winter weather that is comprised of both a sick Hyde end two layers of hair I think it might be helpful to actually define that word hide we hear so many times that animals have thick hides but what does that really mean it is quite simply a more fancy way of referring to skin it was imported from a German word which also means skin so when we say that they protected themselves and are insulated by two layers of hair and a thick hide it means two layers of hair and thick skin the course outer layer of hair will serve as protection from the cold and also from moisture while that inner layer of hair will consist of very fine fibers this will create a unique sort of insulation that traps air and warmth they have a seriously awesome natural jacket just so we understand just how much hair they have they have approximately ten times more hair %HESITATION per square inch than domestic cattle do that is per square inch so they are some of the heaviest creatures I can think of their coats are so effective against cold and moisture that snow will remain on the top of their backs without melting they will assume a very interesting posture on certain days and these days will be particularly frigid ones with the distinctive harsh wind they will face the wind directly and place their heads down which presents the thickest part of their coat to really break and take the edge off of this prairie cold so they know exactly how to brace for those fierce winds with their organic jackets the bison like every other animal we have covered on this show is an integral part of their ecosystem they referred to even as a keystone species because of how vital or role they play in maintaining their respective ecosystem they will graze native grass while their hooves turn up the soil and that their droppings fertilize it so just by their very existence they play the role of a lawn mower plow and fertilizer they even have significant impacts on insect populations when they choose to roll around in the wall %HESITATION in the grass their two thousand pound hairy bodies enjoying the prairie grass has the potential to change and balance the toll and short grass in turn affecting those insect populations prairie dogs for example and other animals will prefer to live in areas that are grazed by bison this is because they can spot editor's more easily so where some predators goal is even affected by their eating habits one endangered species of butterfly is now becoming more abundant because of the reintroduction of bison into their range they're grazing habits and all that they do has created conditions that are more favorable for the plants these butterflies need as food and so big props to the bison they play such an integral part and all they're doing is ingesting grass and rolling around on the ground but in so doing plays so many roles at once so as we were looking at some of these Bisons grazing and rolling around we can judge their mood by their tail right now all of the Bisons have their tails hanging down and swaying naturally and that means that the bison is calm but if we were to see that tail suddenly stand straight up this is a sign that the bison is ready to charge but while these may be tell tale signs of their mood at least usually we have to understand that the bison is a creature that can act unpredictably at least to us because of their fears speed and their size things can change on a dime and with a creature that is two thousand pounds eleven feet long that is something that is better left on experienced were rather unfamiliar it is great for nature documentaries and photographers but not for people if they are too close so while today we are getting close and personal in the outside world if you were to do some sort of trip to see these guys their best adored at a distance so you may have noticed that the entire time while we have been looking at some of these bison they have been eating and if we were to continuously watch them for another eight hours they would likely still be doing the same thing they will typically forage for about nine to eleven hours every day eating grasses weeds and other sorts of leafy plants this is the part in which we ought to be grateful a creature like this if it were carnivorous would be absolutely terrifying but what is great for us is that they only want salad and this one is eating and another is wall the wailing as they call it or rolling around in the ground the reason they roll in the dirt like that is to stop biting flies and even helped to shed some for some male bison will also choose to roll around to the father sent during mating season or to display their strength I believe that this article left out the fact that it might simply be fun it certainly looks like fun to me but maybe that says more about me than it does the bison in terms of their senses they do not have the best vision they have pretty poor eyesight but they do have very good senses of smell and of hearing to make up for it decals or the female bison and the baby bison known as cabs will normally communicate using these pig like grunts and the bull will really use those singing skills in order to let out large grunts that can be heard bellowing across long distances out in the wild a bison can live up to twenty years of age the average lifespan bill is about ten to twenty within that twenty year lifespan in female bison will normally become reproductively successful at the age of two and only have one baby at the time for males however the prime breeding age is later which is about six to ten years so the reproductive age of males is about three to five times higher than the females I'm not sure if that says something of the maturity of the female and the male bowls or if it has something only to do with reproductive capacity in humans for example women are said to be fully developed or to have their brains fully developed around the age of twenty two and with men I believe we are somewhere in the range of thirty seven but all joking aside the males and females will have some pretty different ages when they mate you may have heard of the term red dog before and this term is one that is used maybe in during late in talking about the baby bison bison calves tend to be born from around late March until may and or orange or reddish in color this earned them the nickname red dogs but in a few months the red dog becomes more of a brown dog which does not have so much of a ring to it they will slowly become dark brown and this characteristic shoulder hump ended the horns will begin to grow and that characteristic comp is not just superfluous it does have a function that hump is composed of solid muscle and supported by long vertebrae what it allows this creature to do is to plough its head through snow if need be so it is not just a style choice though it looks great but they use it as a shovel to get to that sweet grass underneath fall cels and accounts from early travelers shows that Yellowstone National Park is the only place in the United States where bison have lived continuously for a very long time and in fact the herd in Yellowstone is one of the few that remains completely genetically free from cattle genes which means that they were free from interbreeding with other cattle species Yellowstone sounds like a wonderful place and I hope to visit one day there are about thirty thousand bison better managed for conservation and private and public herds but most of the five hundred thousand or so bison nation wide or raised instead as livestock on ranches and so their population is indeed decently sized certainly better than what it was after masses of hunting so they do have a fairly large population so in North America there are a great number of bison which is something that is great and for our final fact of the episode we are going to talk about the name bison what does it mean and where does it come from the word bison was really corn in the sixteen hundreds and means European wild ox it comes from the French word bison or I suppose in French it would be diesel and that comes from the Latin word for wild ox now this goes through a ton of different transformations ending at an Old English or Middle English word but is not widely attested to after this and so entomologists not to be mixed up with entomologists which study insects what entomologists postulate that it may be of some kind of Baltic or Slavic origin and meant the stinking animal in reference to its center while writing as we have seen many other times on the show sometimes the derivations of words are not this neat and tidy as we would like and apparently not as neat and tidy as they believe the bison to be according to this etymology and now let us move on to the review portion of the episode this review was written by Alice O. M. G. one one one one that's four ones who wrote all the way from the United States of America and Alice writes it is so calming and it helps me go to sleep so fast but do you think you could move on to the facts already and stop saying sold much other stuff in the beginning the last episode I listened to there were eight minutes of only black bring about other stuff but otherwise the podcast is really could see you get five stars and could you do an episode on Axel waffles by the way I am eleven and from the U. S. thanks Alice thank you Alice for the review and for the kind words and for the very important feedback I'm so happy that the show is coming for you and helps you get to sleep in response to your review and too many others that I have seen up to this point I have tried this episode to really move everything to the and if I can I hope that today's episode can be the standard for the show if of course everybody enjoys it I am always trying to make the podcast better I don't mind moving everything else to the end and if Alice or anyone else listening prefers this way please reach out let me know comment on some kind of Instagram post or something but in regards to the eighty minutes of blubbering about other stuff that is how will log of the early episodes are I had no idea what people enjoyed and I didn't run any ads or anything so I just thought that I was doing what you guys like but as I found out soon it was not the way to go and so some of those older episodes definitely have longer intro is and I wish I could somehow go back and edit them out but that would simply take forever but from going forward I am dedicated to making the show more enjoyable for each of you because this show is for you and your feedback means the world if you want to leave a review like Alice did you can even leave your animal request in the review from what I have seen many times they help the show grow and they helped it get better if you want your very own podcast episode you can send in your request by sending a message to relax with animal facts on Instagram by going to relax with animal facts dot com and clicking on the animal request tab or you could always send an email directly to relax with animal facts at the G. mail dot com you can write whatever you'd like and ensure you leave an animal request and I try to respond to each and everyone of you again there is a patriotic page where we have X. sieve mythical and extinct animals that we cover so if you want access to those exclusive episodes you can go to the patron link in the description order search up Petri on dot com slash relax with animal facts what an amazing creature we covered today the largest mammal in North America quite the Harry and hefty behemoth I hope that you have all enjoyed this journey with me into the plains of North America and I hope you will join me on the next podcast episode with the next animal take care