It might be said there is no natural habitat for the goat (Capra hircus) any longer, since this even-toed ungulate was domesticated in 7,000 B.C. However, any habitat can be considered natural for a goat, since it will eat almost anything and adapts well to diverse environments.
From the French Alps to the Australian outback, goats occupy many different habitats. The modern goat's ancestor was the Bezoar, which lives primarily in Asia and the Middle East.
The goat is well-suited to arid, rocky, hilly country and thrives in areas where crops and other livestock cannot. They are excellent climbers and will scramble up into trees to eat leaves.
Goats are herbivores, eating both typical and unexpected plant types, even the bitter, spiky, salty, or poisonous plants, leaves and herbs particular to their habitat.
Herds of billies, nannies and kids are often used to clear land of unwanted weeds and to eradicate invasive plant species. Goats browse on the tips of shrubs and weeds, much like deer.
Once a goat escapes domestication, it becomes wild almost immediately. If too many goats become feral in a new area, they can injure the local habitat. Wild goats have become a serious problem in Australia.
- Photo Credit Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Kevin Collins
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