Endangered Species: Musk Ox

A Christiansburg Elementary Project
Submitted by Seth from Christiansburg Elementary School
Christiansburg, VA, U.S.A.

Musk Ox
Musk Ox

Photo by Larry Shanks, USFWS

Why Study This Topic? What Was Already Known Search for Information Description of Plant or Animal Habitat Requirements
Adaptations Reasons for Endangerment Restoration Actions What Was Learned Conclusions from Research

Why Study This Topic?

  My name is Seth, and my animal is the Musk ox.When I first got my animal's name, I had to figure out what I wanted to learn about it. Finally, I decided to learn where it lives, what it eats, and what are its habits. The reason I wanted to learn about the Musk ox is so that if I ever met one, I will know if it is mean and if it was, I would know to stay away from it. If I knew more about the Musk ox, I might be able to save it from extinction.

What Was Already Known

  Before I studied the Musk ox, I knew that it was big, lived in Alaska, and that it was endangered. I also knew that it would soon be extinct if people didn't help it. I knew that the reason the Musk ox is almost extinct is because of poachers. Poachers kill the Musk ox for its fur, horns, and fat. After the poachers get these, they just let the animal lay there, until its eaten by another animal or eventualy rots. Other poachers turn the Musk ox into game trophies to show off their sportmanship.

Search for Information

  I searched the Internet for lots of information. On the Internet, I used Yahoo and a popular Musk Ox site. I also used a book from our school library. The other resource I used was the newest edition of the World Book Encyclopiedia. One of the problems with my research was that I had was that the computer was too slow or the Internet addresses didn't work. Another problem was that I had an overdue library book and couldn't check out the Musk ox book I needed for this report. When I brought back the overdue book, I checked out the Musk ox book. I found out that this book didn't have enough information.

Description of Plant or Animal

  The Musk ox is brown and has thick shaggy fur that drags the ground. It is about five or six feet tall. The Musk ox has a large patch of hair on top of its head and a set of razor, sharp horns directly above its eyes. The Musk ox also has a cow-like face with a horse's nose. It also has Clydesdale-like legs and hooves.

Habitat Requirements

  The Musk oxen mainly feed on grass, willows, lichens, knot weed, flea bane, and bladder campion. When it can't get these foods, it digs through the ice and snow for whatever it find. The Musk ox get water by drinking melted ice or snow. In the summer, it finds water from flooded river valleys and small pools of water. The Musk ox doesn't have a place to sleep. It roams all day and goes to sleep where it finds food or wherever it feels tired. The Musk ox has more space than other animals, because it has the Arctic plain to roam freely on. It also roams Alaska and Canada.


  The Musk oxen's natural enemies are the wolf and humans. Many old or sick oxens are killed by packs of wolves. Many young bulls are killed by hunters for their hooves, fat, under fur, and horns. The hunters take the oxen's under fur (quivit) to make light warm clothing such as scarves. The hunters use their fat to make lard and oil. The Musk oxen doesn't have any camouflage colors like the Polar bear. Some of the Musk oxen's physical features are its shaggy fur, sharp horns, sturdy legs, large hooves, a hump on its back, and a large patch of hair on top of its head.

Reasons for Endangerment

  The source of the Musk Oxen's endangerment is from predation of wolves and from mankind. The Musk ox once roamed Greenland, Alaska, and Canada in great numbers. However, it was almost wiped out in the 1800's by hunters and poachers. The poachers and hunters killed the Musk ox for their warm fur, fat, horns, and hooves. The problem with that was that the hunters would leave the rest of the ox lying on the ground to be eaten by another animal or to eventualy rot.

Restoration Actions

  Finally the action to save the Musk Ox from extiction was taken: they finally made a law saying that you could no longer kill a Musk Ox. The idea for future actions was that if the oxen ever got over populated the government would allow sportsmen to hunt them in a controlled way. If the oxen population kept on growing, the U.S. Forest and Wildlife Service would remove them from the endangered species list, for about a year or so.

What Was Learned

  I learned that the Musk Ox doesn't have a home it just sleeps wherever it finds food. Another thing I learned was that the Musk Ox's under-fur is used to make light, warm clothing. Some of the oxen's features I learned about were that the ox has long fur and sharp horns. Some of their other features are large hooves and thick sturdy Clydesdale like legs. Some natual history about the Musk Ox is that it is not native to America. The Musk Ox is native to Greenland and was brought over to America by someone. The oxen can live almost anywhere where it's cold.

Conclusions From Research

  Since I researched the Musk Ox, I am more aware of what it eats, what it does, and where it lives. I am also more aware of it's natural history and physical features. This project helped me build up my confidence and responsibility. Another thing researching this animal helped me with was that it also helped me practice my research skills. It also helped me to have more information on Polar and Arctic animals.


World Book Encyclopedia, (1989). Musk Ox, Scott Fetzer Company Chicago, 498-499

 Switzer, Merebeth, (1986). Musk Ox, Grolier Educational Corporation, Danbury, Connecticut

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Christiansburg Elementary
Last updated on March 12, 1998