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Mammal. Commonly known as buffalo, American bison are the largest land-dwelling mammals in North America. With a shoulder height of up to 2 m (6.5 ft), they can weigh from 544-816 kg (1200-1800 lb), yet they can run up to 50 km (30 mi) per hour. They can pivot on both their front and hind legs and quickly change or reverse direction, or jump. Also strong swimmers, bison can swim across rivers over 1 km (.6 mi) wide. The bison's hump is a mass of muscles that support his or her heavy head. The bison's tail can signal a warning. When the tail is standing straight up, the bison is ready to charge!
Scientific Name Lifespan
Bison bison Up to 20 years in the wild
Herbivore. Bison prefer grasses, but will eat sagebrush when food is scarce. They drink water once a day, and need to eat about 11 kilograms (24 pounds) of forage each day.
Predators and Threats
Gray wolves, coyotes, grizzly bears, and humans.
Originally on the open plains and prairies of the United States and Canada; now only in parks and reserves.