The Alpine chamois can be found at lower altitudes all the way up the highlands in the Alps. In the warm time of year, you can find it in open, rocky terrain in Ötztal all the way up to above the tree line. In winter, chamois will find more food and better protection against avalanches at lower altitudes.
The chamois is a skilful cloven-hoofed animal. The soft soles of its hooves help it adapt to the ground conditions. The animals, which in summer are coloured more red/brown and in winter almost black, feed mainly on herbs, grasses, buds and mushrooms. The head of the chamois is brightly coloured, with each side of the face having a dark stripe running from the ear to the corner of the mouth. The male bucks are bigger and bulkier than the female does. Both genders are antlers. The up to 25 cm long circular horns grow almost completely upwards. Only the end is curved downwards, hooklike. Chamois live in packs of 15 to 30 individuals and are led by an alpha doe. The bucks are solitary animals until late summer. Only in autumn do they join the packs, as November sees the start of the rutting season.
The horns of chamois, as opposed to the antlers of red deer, or not shed. They keep growing every year in the time from April to November. In this way they form rings, which can give an indication of the age of the animal.
Endangerment and protection
In the Alps, the chamois is not endangered and thus also not placed under protection. In winter, however, humans can get the chamois into trouble: By lowering the body temperature and heart rate, the animals save energy. People practising winter sports can become an energy problem, which is why retreat areas should be respected and avoided