Sonoran Pronghorn, Florin Chelaru
© Florin Chelaru

Sonoran Pronghorn

Basic Facts About Sonoran Pronghorns

Known as "prairie ghosts" because they are so elusive, the Sonoran pronghorn is the fastest land mammal in North America.

Smaller and lighter in color than other pronghorn subspecies, the genetically and geographically unique Sonoran pronghorn is specially adapted for survival in harsh arid conditions. Sonoran pronghorn are reddish brown on their backs and sides, and have lighter colored undersides. They have bright white markings on their heads and necks; males have black faces and black patches on the sides of their necks. Male Sonoran pronghorns sport large black pronged horns, while females have short black horns.


Sonoran pronghorns eat herbs, cacti, and desert grasses.


Approximately 160 Sonoran pronghorn remain in the wild in the United States. There is also a small population held in a captive breeding program on the Cabeza Prieta National Wildlife Refuge in southwest Arizona. There are approximately 240 Sonoran pronghorn in Mexico.

Habitat & Range

Within its range, pronghorn tend to prefer broad, alluvial valleys separated by granite mountains and mesas. Vegetation is scarce throughout most the Sonoran pronghorn's habitat due to limited rainfall. Historically, Sonoran pronghorn traveled across vast expanses of the Sonoran Desert in Arizona, California, and Sonora, Mexico. Currently it is confined to fragments of its former range, with only four small populations remaining – two in southwest Arizona, and two separate populations in Mexico.


Sonoran pronghorn have evolved in unique ways to adapt to the harsh desert environment. For example, it can erect its stiff bristle-like body hair in patches to release body heat in extremely hot weather. The pronghorn’s exceptional speed and excellent vision help it to avoid predators and take advantage of scarce desert forage.


Does are ready to mate at 16 months and bucks are ready by one year of age.
Mating Season: September and October
Gestation: 250 days
Offspring: 1 fawn; twins when there is abundant food.

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Sonoran Pronghorn,  © Mark Milburn
In the Magazine
With an oblong face and a black nose splotch, the Sonoran pronghorn stands out against the cacti-strewn landscape of the American Southwest.