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11 Yak Facts You Might Not Know

Last Reviewed and Updated on July 8, 2022

Yaks are an interesting species of animal. They have many traits that make them stand out from other mammals. Explore some of these lesser-known facts about yaks and learn to appreciate these majestic animals even more.

1. Tartary ox, grunting ox, or hairy cattle are all common names for this species

This animal, found throughout some parts of Asia, is known by many names. Grunting ox and hairy cattle are our favorites.

2. Yaks are the highest altitude living domesticated mammals

These animals are well adapted for living in high altitudes. Compared to other cattle they have noticeably larger lungs and hearts which makes it easier for them to deal with decreased oxygen availability that comes with higher altitudes.

3. Yaks don’t “mooo”

Yaks are members of the bovine family, a family that also includes cows, buffalos, and bison. As they are closely related to cows you might expect they would make similar noises as cows do, the very recognizable moo. They do not. They make grunts and squeak, and this is why they got their grunting bull alternative name.

4. They have larger hearts and lungs than other cattle

One of their adaptations to living at high altitudes is the increased size of their lungs and heart.

5. Yaks can suffer from heat exhaustion at temperatures as low as 15 °C (59 °F)

As their bodies have adapted to high altitudes and lower temperatures that come with them they don’t tolerate heat well. They can suffer from heat exhaustion at temperatures as low as 15 °C (59 °F).

6. They have very few functional sweat glands

Their habitat is a cool one so there isn’t much need for evaporative cooling. Their skin does have sweat glands but most of them aren’t functional.

7. Baby yaks are able to walk about 10 minutes after birth

It takes 10 minutes for them to start walking on their own. Talk about gaining some independence early on!

8. People use dried yak droppings as fuel

This is one of the most interesting facts about yaks, or well their droppings. Dry dung fuel is a fuel made from animal droppings that have been dried. Think this is weird? Make sure you take a look at our list of weirdest facts about animals.

9. You can breed yaks with other cattle

A dzo (male) and dzomo (female) are hybrids between a yak and domestic cattle.

Female hybrids are fertile while males are not. These hybrids are larger and stronger than the yaks and cattle that the yak was bred with.

10. Wild yaks live in herds

Wild yaks are native to the Himalayas. They are the ancestors of the domesticated yaks and they tend to live in herds.

11. Female yak are cows, males are bulls, and the offspring is a calf

Just like the most common domesticated cattle.

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