Rams ram with their horns because of different reasons:
- To establish dominance over another ram
- To get in shape for the breeding season and attract better mates by being more dominant
- To defend against animals that are trying to attack it
- To defend their territory if they feel it’s threatened
Most of the time, rams will headbutt each other which might be a power struggle within a sheep herd. Rams will ram each other to establish dominance and hierarchy. These fights might last hours on end until one ram gets exhausted enough to give up. Ramming is also a form of competition among rams to get the best mates possible.
Reasons Why Rams Ram
Here are some of the main reasons why rams ram other animals and other males.
1. To Establish Dominance
The number one reason why rams ram into other males is to establish dominance within their herd.
A good example of this is with Bighorn rams. Males of this sheep breed will headbutt each other to see which male is the most dominant in the hierarchy. They will lock their big horns and run into each other at full speeds, which surprisingly, doesn’t do a lot of damage to their heads.
That’s because their head is well-protected against these shocks. Firstly, their horns absorb most of the shock so the impact doesn’t get transferred to the brain of the ram. These horns are designed in such a way that they can handle powerful impacts such as those from headbutting from other rams.
The second reason why these strikes don’t cause damage to sheep is that their heads have a thick skull that protects them from headbutting. In addition, the shock is also absorbed by the tightening of the neck of the ram, which all results in headbutting behavior that might take hours to resolve.
Ramming is a mechanism that rams use to make other rams submissive to them. When two rams headbutt each other, usually the main purpose of this behavior is to allow one of the two to climb the social ladder and become the leader of the herd.
2. When They Breed
The second and very common reason why rams ram is during the breeding season. Not only does ramming help them get in better physical condition for breeding, but it’s also a good way for them to attract better mates by being the most dominant male in the group.
Ramming is physically demanding for rams. It strengthens their character as well as their physical shape, so it’s helpful for them when they need to make sure they’re in shape for when they breed.
Headbutting is also putting on a display for the females, to some extent. When rams ram heads, they will show their masculinity to the females and portray their fitness as a potential breeding partner.
3. Defending Against Predators
Sheep are an animal of prey in the natural food chain. Ewes, in particular, are near the bottom of the food chain since they often fall prey to larger carnivores like bears and wolves. But even sheep have some defensive mechanisms, and ramming and using their horns to defend themselves is one of them.
This is why some sheep breeds have developed horns in both males and females, but these sheep breeds are rare. With the vast majority of sheep, horns only develop in rams. The main purpose of these horns is for defense against their predators, which can sometimes be highly effective when combined with ramming.
With their horns, even the ewes will be able to defend themselves to an extent and use them for ramming against their predators. This is typically seen with wild sheep breeds such as Bighorn sheep, for example.
4. Defending Their Territory
Rams are highly territorial creatures. They don’t like other beings encroaching into their territory, which is when they will use their horns to ram against animals that come too close to them.
This is one of the main reasons why it’s not recommended for you to get too close to rams too much. They don’t like to have other animals close to them, and they will feel as though their territory is under threat. This will activate their defensive instincts and they might ram into the animal that gets too close.
There have even been cases of attacks on humans because of this reason. Some of these attacks have not ended well for humans, with some of them even having fatal consequences for the persons included.
Do Rams Get Hurt When They Ram?
Rams don’t usually get hurt when they ram into each other. Their bodies are constructed in such a way that they’re fully adapted to this ramming behavior and they won’t take any damage if they are getting run into.
There are several mechanisms that allow rams to keep their skulls intact when they ram into each other. You might have seen how fast rams charge against one another, so it’s hard to imagine that they wouldn’t get hurt doing it.
But thanks to some body features, they can ram into each other for hours without seeing a lot of impacts.
- First of all, they have thick and strong horns that help them make sure they don’t get hurt when they ram. These horns will absorb most of the impact from the ramming.
- Secondly, rams have very thick skulls. This thickness enables the skulls to stay whole during this procedure, so the rams wouldn’t see any effects from the ramming at all.
- Lastly, rams also have incredibly strong neck muscles. This allows them to avoid any potential damages done by ramming as their necks absorb a lot of the impact.
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- How Much Land does a Sheep need?
- Llama vs Sheep
- 9 Common Texas Sheep Breeds
- What Animal do Lamb Chops Come From?
Rams ram into each other for various reasons. Often, the main reason is to help them establish dominance within their ranks and to attract mates by showing their masculinity. But ramming can also be helpful when defending against predators or when defending their territories. All in all, ramming is a powerful technique that rams use to achieve their goals.
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