Galapagos Species Checklist

Capra hircus

Linnaeus, 1758

Domain Eukaryota
Kingdom Animalia
Division Chordata
Class Mammalia
Order Artiodactyla
Family Bovidae
Genus Capra

Capra hircus  Linnaeus, 1758


English common name: Goat

Spanish common name: Chivo, Cabra

Local name: Chivo

Taxonomic comments: The common goat, Capra hircus, is a domesticated species that is closely related to the wild goat species Capra aegagrus.

Name status: Accepted name; taxon occurs in Galapagos.

Description: This domesticated mammal is a ruminant herbivore, approximately one meter in height. Goats generally have short, rough hair of variable color and pattern, large horns that are hollow and turned back, tufts of long hair hanging from the lower jaw, and a short tail. The female is smaller than the male and sometimes without horns. They have a scent gland near the feet and groin but lack interdigital and lacrimal glands. Gestation lasts approximately 150 days. These feral animals show marked sexual dimorphism in size, color, and horns characteristics. The goat is considered to be one of the hundred most harmful invasive species in the world.

Year of first record: 1685

Last updated: 29 Sep 2016


  • In
  • Na

  • Ac
  • Cu
  • Er
  • Es

    Taxon introduced for agricultural or domestic use; naturalized in the wild.

  • Ic
  • AcQ
    Questionable Accidental
  • NaQ
    Questionable Native

IUCN Status

Lowest risk category. Does not qualify for a more at risk category. Widespread and abundant taxa are included in this category.

Least Concern - Lowest risk category. Does not qualify for a more at risk category. Widespread and abundant taxa are included in this category.

The IUCN Red List assessments presented here may deviate from the global IUCN listings for the following reasons:

  • for well-known species groups, such as vascular plants or vertebrates, updates proposed to the IUCN are shown, rather than the outdated, but currently-used status;
  • for poorly-known species groups, such as lichenized fungi, a general assessment is not currently possible, therefore the list presented here is the regional IUCN Red List for the Galapagos Archipelago.


Galapagos island groups: Española, Floreana, Isabela, Marchena, Pinta, San Cristóbal, Santa Cruz, Santa Fé, Santiago.

In Galapagos domesticated and feral goats have occur on the Islands: Santa Cruz, San Cristóbal, Florena and South Isabela. They have been eradicated from North Isabela, Baltra, Española, Plaza Sur, Santa Fe, Marchena, Rábida, Santiago, and Pinta.

Preference for altitude zone in Galapagos: Coastal zonera-humid zone.

Native range: Originally from Asia and Iran

Distribution classification: Nearctic.

Please be aware that this distribution map is automatically generated from database records (CDF and external specimens, literature records, and observations) and may not accurately reflect the currently-known distribution for all species.

General Ecology

Habitat preferences: Domestic and feral goats can be found in all vegetated habitats. This species is very drought-tolerant and may be able to drink sea water, at least for limited time periods. In Galapagos goats range from the coast to the volcanic peaks.

Trophic role: Herbivorous (feeding on plants).

Feeding type: Graminivorous (feeding on grasses).
Goats spend between 5 and 9 hours foraging. Although they prefer pasture they also consume many species of shrubs, trees, and herbaceous plants. In Galapagos they have been observed to feed on foliage, seeds, young plants and a wide range of native vegetation such as the genera Scalesia, Acacia, Lippia, and Zanthoxylum. Many native plant species have been locally threatened by extinction as a result of goat foraging.

Feeding preferences: They prefer grasses but are not specialists or selective, feed on any vegetation that is most abundant at that time. When they finish with vegetation available in an area, they go to another where they can forage.

Reproductive biology: Goats are prolific animals that reproduce during all seasons. Age of sexual maturity varies depending on diet, season of birth, and breed; most animals become sexually active between five and nine months of age. Males reach sexual maturity sooner than females, around five to seven months of age. Gestation is approximately 150 days but this can vary depending on the number of fetuses and the number of previous offspring.

Reproduction mode: Exclusively sexual (through production of gametes and fertilization).

Galapagos associated species: Humans

Disease vector: Feral goats are susceptible to both internal and external parasites and some diseases such as melioidosis (a bacterial disease that can limit the spread of goats), Queensland rickettsia fever (can be transmitted to humans), and potentially fever and other exotic diseases.

Natural enemies: Larger carnivores such as coyotes, wolves, wild dogs, pumas, hawks, bears, eagles frequently attack goats but, with the exception of feral dogs and hawks, most of these species are not present in the Galapagos so goats have low predation risk.

Economic use: Goats have been bred for the production of meat, milk, and wool and, when properly managed, can have great commercial value. When they escape from captivity, however, they can become invasive species with serious negative effects on native vegetation. With proper management goats have been used for conservation grazing and the control of undesired shrubs, or weeds in open habitats such as grasslands.
Goats play an important economic role in traditional agricultural communities and other areas with concentrations of poverty. The industry of commercial exploitation of wild goats, generates $ 29 million annually. Several shepherds in Australia consider feral goat capture and sale as their main income.

Invasion Ecology

Aggressive status: Potential transformer (An introduced species that has invaded a natural habitat to an extent that it will drastically and often irreversibly change its environment in the near future.).

Invasion risk score: Moderate risk.

Form of introduction: Intentional introduction.

Impact in Galapagos: Erosion and habitat alteration are the biggest effects of C. hircus in the Galapagos Islands. Goats alter native vegetation of the islands and compete with tortoieses and land iguanas for food as well as negatively impacting habitats for species such as finches, mockingbirds and other Passeriformes. Some of the native plant genera that are negatively impacted by goats include Scalesia, Zanthoxylum, Acnistus, Psidium, Clorodendrum, Castela, Vallesia, Bursera, Coridia, Cryptocarpus, Scutia, and Lippia. They may also play a role in the dispersal of seeds of invasive plants such as blackberries.

Known pest elsewhere: Widespread throughout the world, principally on islands

Impact elsewhere: In Australia, is estimated that the wild goats grazing causing losses of $ 25 million per year. The estimate does not include costs associated with the impact of goats on the environment, soil erosion, and pasture degradation. Feral goats negatively impact the conservation values and biodiversity by damaging vegetation and competition with native wildlife. The impact is most evident and severe on islands.

Related species impact: Equus asinus, Bos taurus

Persistence mechanisms: Because goats feed on a wide variety of plants in different habitats they can adapt to climatic and geographical conditions. They reproduce during all seasons, may give birth multiple offspring, and can become gravid while breastfeeding leading to population to increases of up to 50% annually. These persistence mechanisms combined with their herding behavior make goats a dangerous pest for the Galapagos


Control history in Galapagos: Goats have been eradicated from the islands Santa Fe, Española, Marchena, Pinta, Plaza Sur, Rábida, Baltra, Islet Mariela Sur, Islet Fondeadero, Santiago and North of Isabela. Traditional hunting techniques using trained dogs have been used on all the islands. For the larger islands of Santiago and Isabela Judas goat and aerial hunting from a helicopter have also been employed.

Control methods elsewhere: Eradication is only possible on small islands or in limited mainland areas. In most areas a continual management is required to reduce the impacts of this species. In Australia, New Zealand, Europa, North America, and island communities such as Hawaii and Galapagos goats have been successfully controlled or eradicated by the use of professional hunters using firearms and dogs. A combination of traditional ground hunting methods and hunting from helicopters is often employed. A novel technique for controlling goats has been pioneered in the Galapagos. The Judas Goat method involves releasing radio collared, sterilized female goats near wild populations. Due to the gregarious habits of goats these females readily join wild herds and then hunters can locate the herds by tracking the radio transmissions.


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