A Pygmy Goat is one of many different domestic breeds of goat. The domestic goat is a subspecies of the wild goat (Capra aegagrus), and all of the various breeds share the same species. This breed, which people sometimes mistake for the closely related Nigerian dwarf breed, originates in Africa. Read on to learn about the Pygmy Goat.
Description of the Pygmy Goat
Like all goats, these mammals have hooves on their ends of their feet with two primary “toes” rather than a single hoof like a horse. Most individuals also have a pair of horns. Their distinguishing characteristic is their small size. Most grow to a maximum of 20 in. tall at the shoulder and weigh no more than 80 lbs.
Interesting Facts About the Pygmy Goat
This charismatic little breed has a number of interesting traits and behaviors. Learn more about what makes them unique, below.
- American Pygmy vs. Nigerian Dwarf – It’s easy to confuse the two breeds of “little” goats. The pygmy has a narrower head than the Nigerian dwarf, and has a slighter build. The Nigerian dwarf has a stocky build and a characteristically broad face.
- Function and Use – What exactly do you do with such a small goat? While some people do raise these goats for meat, most people raise this breed for companionship or as pets. Zoos frequently keep this breed in petting zoos for their charming disposition and manageable size.
- Hardy and Happy – People love these goats for more than their adorably tiny packaging. These goats are surprisingly hardy and capable of adapting to a wide variety of climates and conditions. Because it is relatively easy to care for them, and they have friendly dispositions, they make good companions.
Habitat of the Pygmy Goat
People fully domesticated this breed of goat many years ago. While their ancestors lived in a variety of arid African habitats, nowadays these goats live in primarily manmade habitats.
Generally, people keep these goats on farmland or pasture with plenty of grass and shrubbery to eat. However, some also keep them in scrub forests, mountainous regions, woodland habitats, and more.
Distribution of the Pygmy Goat
The original ancestors of this breed came from Africa. They quickly garnered popularity and spread across the United States. Though their ancestors originated outside of the United States, farmers created this breed in North America. It has since spread to other countries as well, primarily for use in petting zoos.
Diet of the Pygmy Goat
Like all goats, this breed has herbivorous feeding habits. They eat an incredibly variety of different plants. Unlike cows and sheep, these creatures do not graze, but browse on virtually all plant matter. This means that in addition to grass they also eat shrubs, bushes, leaves, and virtually any edible plant matter.
Pygmy Goat and Human Interaction
Like any domestic breed, this goat would not exist without human interaction. People have used these mammals for a variety of purposes. They primarily keep them as pets or use them in zoos, as well as breed them, show them, and use their meat. Some people also use them to clear bushes and shrubbery from areas.
The original ancestors of this breed came to North America from Africa. People imported West African dwarf goats from coastal regions of West and Central Africa. With these goats, farmers selectively bred the American Pygmy and the Nigerian dwarf breeds.
Does the Pygmy Goat Make a Good Pet
Yes, these little goats can make wonderful pets to the right people, but they are not indoor pets. They typically have a very friendly demeanor. However, you must provide ample space and pasture for them to graze and exercise, medical care, and shelter from the elements. You must do your research before deciding on this or any pet.
Pygmy Goat Care
These goats have highly social behavior, and you should keep them in groups. They need plenty of space to exercise and forage for food, and most also need some additional hay or grain to supplement their diet. Additionally, these creatures can fall prey to predators quite easily, and must have secure fencing to keep them safe.
Behavior of the Pygmy Goat
Like most goats, these little mammals are well known for their curious and friendly nature. Despite popular belief that goats eat virtually anything, they do not eat everything, but due to their curious nature they will nibble and investigate anything that they deem particularly interesting.
Reproduction of the Pygmy Goat
Though females reach sexual maturity at just a few months old, ideally, they should not breed until they reach about six to nine months of age. After mating, the gestation period lasts about five months. Females give birth to between two and four offspring, known as kids.