Episode 317 – Takin: This is a Goat?

“…and today we’re talking about an animal that is takin care of business. But more on that later.”

In the Himalayas, you might be surprised to see a goat moose bear cow gazelle scuttling around the rocks. The takin is an odd-looking beast whose elusive nature and gleaming fur possibly inspired a well-known ancient Greek myth. From its goofy nose to its smelly coat, this innovative ungulate finds unique ways to fight off the mountain chills. But staying warm and dry is something to be takin seriously on the cold Asian peaks here in Life, Death, and Taxonomy.

Description of the Takin

The takin has a robust physique that is similar to the muskox in size and shape. Incidentally, a musk ox is also in the goat subfamily, not the cow subfamily (bovinae).

Takin have short legs supported by large, two-toed hooves featuring highly developed spurs.

They are characterized by a deep chest, stocky body, and a notably large head with a long, arched nose. Both males and females sport stout horns, about 30 cm (12 in) long but capable of growing up to 64 cm (25 in). 

The long, shaggy coat varies in color, often turning black on the undersides and legs. Four recognized subspecies showcase differences in coat color, ranging from dark blackish to reddish-brown in the eastern Himalayas to lighter yellow-gray in the Sichuan Province. 

Measure Up

Welcome to the beloved Measure Up segment. The official listener’s favorite part of the show! The part of the show when we present the animal’s size and dimension in relatable terms through a quiz that’s fun for the whole family. It’s also the part of the show that’s introduced by you when you send in audio of yourself saying, singing, or chittering the words Measure Up into ldtaxonomy at gmail dot com. We do have a new Measure Up intro!

Height at the Withers

  • 97 to 140 cm (38 to 55 in)
  • How many Nigerian Dwarf goats go into the height of the takin?
  • Hint: Nigerian Dwarf goats are among the smallest goat breeds along with the pygmy goat. Both originate from West Africa.
  • 2.3 goats. The max height of the ND goat is 60 cm. 


  • 300–350 kg (660–770 lb)
  • How many Fiesta size bags of Blue Heat Takis go into the weight of a takin?
  • Hint: Takis are rolled tortilla chips that come in bright colors with an almost radioactive glow. They are known for bold flavors and a powerful kick of heat. The “Blue Heat” flavor is intended to taste like a hot chili pepper, but the baleful Pacific Blue Crayola color is reminiscent of something that can only be achieved by the dread chemical manipulation of microplastics. 
  • 615.9 bags. The Fiesta bag is 1 LB 4 OZ (567 grams).

Fast Facts about the Takin

Takin are found in the Eastern Himalayas, and they are the national animal of Bhutan. 

Takin live in small family groups of about 20 individuals. Females and younger males exhibit social behavior, while older males lead more solitary lives. 

During the summer, herds of up to 300 takin gather on mountain slopes, especially near favorable feeding sites, salt licks, or hot springs. Mating season happens between July and August when adult males compete for dominance through head-to-head sparring.

Both males and females use their urine scent to indicate dominance. After an approximately eight-month gestation period, a single young is born. 

Takin migrate to lower, forested areas in winter and prefer sunny spots during sunrise. When disturbed, they emit a ‘cough’ alarm call, and the herd retreats into bamboo thickets, lying on the ground for camouflage. Their predators include leopards, the Asiatic black bear, and sometimes gray wolves, tigers, dholes, and snow leopards.

Takin feed in the early morning and late afternoon, consuming various leaves, grasses, bamboo shoots, and flowers. They also look for salt sources whenever they can. When they find a mineral deposit, they may stick around for days.

They have been observed standing on their hind legs to reach leaves over 3.1 meters high. 

Takin secrete an oily substance over their bodies instead of relying on localized scent glands.

Major Fact: Takin of Peltham 123

A prominent nose with a swollen appearance caused biologist George Schaller to liken the takin to a “bee-stung moose.

The reason it has such a swollen nose is because it actually has a complex network of sinus cavities to warm up the air before it reaches the lungs.

Without this adaptation, takins would lose a large amount of body heat just by breathing. 

their skin secretes an oily, bitter-tasting substance that acts as a natural raincoat in storms and fog. Streaks of this oily stuff can be seen where Takins rub.” The biologist Valerius Geist describes this oil as having a “burning taste. When rain falls on their coat, the oil repels it, and it beads up and falls off instead of soaking the animal.

Possible inspiration for the Golden Fleece myth. The skin of a golden ram creature that saved a Greek god and is considered a symbol of authority and royalty.

Ending: So get that good warm nose air, cover your coat with waterproof stink, and tame the Greek gods themselves like the takin here in LDT.