How Do You Tell a Bison Bull from a Cow?
Female (cows) and male bison (bulls) look extremely similar and it can be difficult to tell them apart for that reason. Unless accompanied by a young calf, it may not always be obvious, so let us help! Both male and female bison have horns, are brown in color, have humps on their back to move snow, and can vary in size. So how do you tell a male and female bison apart? Easy! Look at their horns, head size, and overall mass.
Although it may be hard to see, a bull’s horn is about twice the diameter of his eye. However, a female bison’s horn is about the same diameter as her eye. In other words, the male bison will have a thicker horn than the female bison.
Both young male and female bison have horns, and as they grow the horns change shape. Bulls’ horns tend to be more straight while a female cow will curve inward towards her head.
The short and sweet way to tell a difference based on a bison’s head is to check their head size! A female bison has a much more narrow head size with less fluffy hair on her head.
This may be obvious, but if you see a much larger bison that towers over the other bison, it’s most likely a male.
This is not always a clear indicator, but a bull will often be lighter in the front and darker in the back while a cow is often a single tone all over. However, a female can also be two-toned, so this is not always an accurate way to tell the difference.
We hope this helps you identify the difference between a male and female bison the next time you see a video or National Park!
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