Common Name

Scientific Name


Photo by Larry Dalton and Laura Romin
Photo Copyright Larry Dalton and Laura Romin

The desert bighorn sheep, Ovis canadensis nelsoni, occurs in open rocky areas of desert mountain ranges in the southwestern United States and northern Mexico. A native Utah species, the desert bighorn sheep can be found in the southern (especially southeastern) area of the state, where it is popular with wildlife watchers and hunters alike.

Desert bighorn sheep are opportunistic feeders, eating a variety of plant material, including cacti. Interestingly, desert bighorn sheep obtain a great deal of moisture from the foods they eat, and individuals can live quite some time without drinking any water.

Lambs are born in the spring; females usually give birth to only one lamb each year. The species is primarily active during the day, with peak activity periods occurring during the early morning and late evening hours.


  • Biotics Database. 2005. Utah Division of Wildlife Resources, NatureServe, and the network of Natural Heritage Programs and Conservation Data Centers.