How long do American bisons live?
American bisons aren’t just majestic animals, but they also happen to be the official national mammal of the United States, meaning they are protected under major conservation programs within the US.
These huge, but mostly harmless animals can live up to 20 years; although there are records of bisons making it past the twenty years mark, however, it isn’t the case for most.
American bisons lifespan
Like we just said, American bisons can live up to 20 years, with some being able to live a couple of years more. An American Bisons' lifespan is usually around 10 to 20 years.
However, some studies have shown that their lifespan can also vary. Some say American bisons can live from 18 years to 22 years, meanwhile others assure their regular life expectancy doesn’t go beyond 20 years.
These mammals are known not only for their huge size, but for the fact they have been on the brink of extinction before due to their short lifespan and their breeding situation.
You see, female American bisons can only begin to breed when they reach a 2 years old mark, and can only have one baby at a time, which makes reproduction slow and difficult, leading them to be threatened by extinction before (however, they’re doing great nowadays! And there’s actually a huge community of American bisons all across the US).
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How long do American bisons live in the wild?
American bisons are herbivores, meaning their diet is based mainly on plants and fruits. They are gigantic animals, reaching up to 9.2 ft (from head to rump), with small but powerful horns, and a thick fur coat.
Their appearance and huge size makes them a predator instead of a pray. However, considering American bisons are herbivores, they aren’t really predators, just huge mammals with no real predators EXCEPT for wolves.
That being said, American bisons life expectancy in the wild is much shorter than in captivity, being able to live only up to 15 years in the wild, and not being able to reach their maximum lifespan.
The reason for this is not only their natural predators (meaning, wolves), but hunting. Although efforts to protect them and their natural habitat, hunting for American bisons is an activity that has put their species in danger across the years.
There’s also other two factors that can affect their lifespan, being their natural habitat and their sexes:
- Usually, American bisons located further in the North and high-latitude areas tend to live more than those in lower altitudes since they can be affected either by wolves or professional hunters.
- Although it is true male bisons are bigger than female ones and their behaviour (specially during breeding season) is different, they don’t have much discrepancy between their lifespan. Both being able to live up to 15 years in the wild regardless of their sex.
How long do American Bisons live in captivity?
Like we mentioned before, American bisons actually do live longer in captivity than in the wild, being able to live up to 22 years in captivity, meanwhile they usually die at 15 years old or sooner in their natural habitat.
Bisons can live either in Natural Parks conserved by the government or in zoos, such as the Smithsonian’s National Zoo, where they are kept safe and sound from any external harm.
American bisons living in captivity are usually fed with grass and herbivore pellets, following their natural diet. Of course, zookeepers can also feed them fruits such as berries and flowery plants every once in a while.
It is important to mention that bisons living in captivity need a huge amount of land, grass and sedge to live properly, not to mention, they require extensive veterinary cares, specially for the cow and her caf.
Life expectancy of the American bisons according to the species
- American bison, bison, American buffalo, buffalo: 10 to 20 years (from 22 years to 35 if living in captivity).
- European bison (bison bonasus): 14 to 16 years (can live longer in captivity).
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