Difference Between Yak And Bison

Yaks and bison are two magnificent mammals that have been found on several continents. They are both herbivores, and they have some similarities. Nevertheless, they differ in various ways, and it’s important to understand their distinctions. This article will delve into the differences between yak and bison and explore some of their characteristics.

Physical Appearance

First, let’s discuss their physical appearance. Yaks have a stocky build with a thick coat of fur that can be dark brown, black, or white. They have long, shaggy hair on their necks and shoulders, sometimes reaching below their knees. In contrast, bison have a massive body structure with a woolly light brown coat. They also possess long hair that covers their head, neck, and front legs. Bison have a short tail, while yaks have a long one that can grow up to 20 inches.

Geographic Distribution

Next, we will discuss where each animal is commonly found. Yaks are mostly found in the Himalayan region, living in altitudes between 12,000 and 20,000 feet. They are well adapted to the cold weather and can comfortably live in temperatures as low as negative 40 degrees Fahrenheit. Bison, on the other hand, are native to North America and Eurasia. Historical records indicate that bison used to be found throughout the great plains of North America. Nevertheless, today they are found in reserves, and their population is mostly confined to national parks and zoos.


Another significant difference between yak and bison is their diet. Yaks are herbivorous and have a vegetarian diet. They graze on grasses, roots, and other vegetation, thriving in an area with low-quality grass. They are known to be able to survive on fewer calories than domestic cattle while maintaining a healthy weight. On the other side, bison feed on grasses, herbs, and sedges, and their diet may also include bark from trees, twigs, and buds. During winter months, when food is scarce, bison rely on digging through snow to find food.


The behavior of yaks and bison is also noteworthy. Yaks are social animals and typically graze together in groups or separately in pairs. This social cohesion serves to protect them from predators such as wolves and leopards. Bison are also social animals, and they roam in herds. They engage in grooming, play, and other social activities to maintain social ties within the herd.


Yaks have been domesticated for centuries, and they play a crucial role in the lives of the people of the Himalayas. They are used for transportation of goods and people and as a source of food, fiber, and fuel. Bison, on the other hand, are not usually domesticated but are kept in reserves for conservation purposes.


In summary, yaks and bison are two distinct animals with differences in appearance, diet, behavior, and geographic distribution. The yak’s thick coat and long tail set it apart from bison. Yaks are found in the Himalayas and survive on a vegetarian diet and were domesticated for several centuries. Bison, on the other hand, have a woolly, light brown coat and are native to North America and Eurasia, living in reserves for conservation purposes. Understanding these differences can help us appreciate the unique attributes of each animal and make us better appreciate the diversity of our planet.

Keywords: Yaks, Bison, Physical Appearance, Geographic Distribution, Diet, Behavior, Domestication.