The graceful chamois is found in all the mountains of Europe which bound the valley of the Danube, both on the north and on the south.
As, however, it prefers the cold air of the highest mountains, it makes Switzerland its chief home.
In general appearance, its head and body are not unlike those of the goat;
but it has a more slender neck, and no beard;
and its horns are black and stand erect, being curved into hocks only at the tips.
The chamois is not only very swift of foot, but very sure-footed.
Its cup-shaped and sharp-edged hoofs have been specially made for the mountains on which it loves to dwell.
It makes its way up and down the face of very steep rocks.
It bounds swiftly from crag to crag, springing fearlessly on to the top of the sharpest rocks,
if only it can find room to place its four feet close together.
The flesh of the chamois is considered a great dainty by the Swiss;
and its skin, when tanned, is the fine soft leather which is called after it, chamois-leather.
Chamois-hunting is a favourite pursuit in Switzerland.
The sport is attended with very great peril.
The hunter has often to spend days and nights alone upon the mountains.
He has to pass over the most dangerous rocks and precipices, and often his rashness costs him his life.