Science, Tech, Math › Animals & Nature Pygmy Goat Facts Scientific Name: Capra aegagrus hircus Share Flipboard Email Print Pair of juvenile African Pygmy goats. Bernard Bialorucki / Getty Images Plus Animals & Nature Mammals Amphibians Birds Habitat Profiles Reptiles Wildlife Conservation Insects Marine Life Forestry Dinosaurs Evolution View More Table of Contents Expand Description Habitat and Distribution Diet and Behavior Reproduction and Offspring Conservation Status Pygmy Goats and Humans Sources By Regina Bailey Biology Expert B.A., Biology, Emory University A.S., Nursing, Chattahoochee Technical College Regina Bailey is a board-certified registered nurse, science writer and educator. Her work has been featured in "Kaplan AP Biology" and "The Internet for Cellular and Molecular Biologists." our editorial process Regina Bailey Updated August 30, 2019 Pygmy goats are part of class Mammalia and are a domestic breed originating from the Cameroon region of West Africa. Similar forms are found throughout northern and southwestern Africa. Their scientific name (Capra aegagrus hircus) comes from the Latin words meaning she-goat (capra) and he-goat (hircus). Known for their small size and outgoing personalities, pygmy goats are now kept as pets in many places. Fast Facts: Pygmy Goats Scientific Name: Capra aegagrus hircusCommon Names: Cameroon dwarf goatOrder: AriodactylaBasic Animal Group: MammalDistinguishing Characteristics: Outgoing personality, small size, agile climbersSize: About 40 inches long and 20 inches highWeight: Up to 50 pounds for females and up to 60 pounds for malesLife Span: 15 yearsDiet: Grass, leaves, twigs, shrubHabitat: Hillsides, plainsConservation Status: Not evaluatedFun Fact: Pygmy goats do not shed their horns, so their age can be determined by counting their growth rings. Description Pygmy goats get the nickname of dwarf goats for their compact size, only growing up to 20 inches high. Their weight ranges from 35 to 50 pounds for females and 40 to 60 pounds for males. They have a large range of colors, from white/caramel to dark red, silver to black with frosted spots, solid black, and brown. Favorable breed characteristics include nonexistent beards for females and a full and long mane across the shoulders for males. celta4 / Getty Images These goats can provide small quantities of milk but are mostly considered meat goats. They have two-toed hooves, rectangular pupils, and a four-chambered stomach. Two-toed hooves help them to be agile climbers, while their rectangular pupils allow them to see 280 degrees around their bodies. This enables them to scan the area for potential threats. They also have a four-chambered stomach that contains bacteria which breaks down cellulose in all the vegetation the goats eat. Their first stomach has a capacity of an astonishing 10 quarts, allowing them to consume large quantities food in a small amount of time. Habitat and Distribution This image shows a male and female pygmy goat pair. jayneboo shropshire / Getty Images Pygmy or dwarf goats originate from the Cameroon region of West Africa. As a domestic breed, they live on farmland but in the wild they live on hillsides and plains. There are also over 1,000 goats in zoos across the world. The West African dwarf goat is the most common and most valuable livestock in west and central Africa. These goats have adapted well to their native environment and are highly fertile. They are also genetically resistant to nematode infections that tend to wipe out other goat breeds. Diet and Behavior This pgymy goat is sampling a plastic tablecloth. 2windspa / Getty Images Plus Pygmy goats are grazers that prefer leaves, plants, twigs, shrubs, and vines over grass. Occasionally, they can consume fruits, vegetables, and hay. Due to their robust digestive system, they have been known to also eat tree bark, garbage, and even tin cans. Pygmy goats are vulnerable to predators while eating, so these goats can eat large quantities of food quickly in open areas and then regurgitate a portion of it to chew again after it has evaded predators and returned to safer areas. Being social animals, pygmy goats prefer to be in groups. In the wild, the group sizes normally range from 5 to 20 members. Males butt heads to establish hierarchical dominance, and the highest ranking male mates with the females. Young goats, called kids, form a pile for company and warmth. Reproduction and Offspring PeteGallop / Getty Images Plus While some tropic goat breeds reproduce all year long, pygmy goat females begin their cycle late fall/winter after they reach sexual maturity at age one. This timing ensures the young will be born in the spring/summer, since the gestation period for females is roughly 150 days. When males reach sexual maturity at 5 months, they will produce a strong odor from scent glands on the top of their head to attract females during breeding season. Females give birth to one to two kids that weigh 2 to 4 pounds at birth. A female averages two kids per litter but can occasionally give birth to three. Within an hour after birth, these young are able to stand, follow their mother, and nurse. They are weaned at 10 months, at which point they begin to graze independently. Conservation Status Pygmy goats have not been assessed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). They are not considered to be endangered in any way. Pygmy Goats and Humans Young boy pulling along young pygmy goat. studioimagen / Getty Images Plus The domestication of pygmy goats dates back to 7500 B.C. They do well as pets and farm animals due to their ability to survive where cows and sheep could not. Today, they are bred as pets as well as for milk and meat. Due to their friendly attitudes, they are also kept in many zoos across the world. Sources "African Pygmy Goat". Belfast Zoological Gardens, http://www.belfastzoo.co.uk/animals/african-pygmy-goat.aspx.Chiejina, Samuel N, and Jerzy M Behnke. “The Unique Resistance and Resilience of the Nigerian West African Dwarf Goat to Gastrointestinal Nematode Infections.” Parasites & Vectors, vol. 4, no. 1, Mar. 2011, doi:10.1186/1756-3305-4-12."Goat Breeds Pygmy". Extension, 2015, https://articles.extension.org/pages/19289/goat-breeds-pygmy."Pygmy Goat". Woburn Safari Park, https://www.woburnsafari.co.uk/discover/meet-the-animals/mammals/pygmy-goat/."Pygmy Goat". Oakland Zoo, https://www.oaklandzoo.org/animals/pygmy-goat."Pygmy Goat". Oregon Zoo, https://www.oregonzoo.org/discover/animals/pygmy-goat.