Blog

10 THINGS YOU DIDN`T KNOW ABOUT SHEEP

10/04/2013

Hello, hello :) As promised, the “10 things you didn`t know about…” series continues.  And how it continues! Oh, my, sheep are in order :) I`ve always thought of sheep as funny, but not exactly in the good way, animals. Just see what their Wikipedia definition is: “Sheep (Ovis aries) are quadrupedal, ruminant mammals…”. Quadrupedal! I mean, what kind of a word is that… yet, its weird ring somehow fits with those curly, used-to-be-white creatures.

sheep

Not that I’ve been in the company of that many sheep, nope. But even the very little I`ve met appeared to be…how to put it, well, not that bright. As a matter of fact, they seemed sincerely stupid. So you can imagine my surprise when I read that despite the common perception as unintelligent, sheep are actually just below pigs and on par with cattle in IQ. Sheep can recognize individual human and ovine faces, and remember them for years. In addition to long-term facial recognition of individuals, sheep can also differentiate emotional states through facial characteristics. How is that, ha. So, naturally, I dug for more facts we didn`t know about sheep and here you go:

  • Sheep make different vocalizations to communicate different emotions.
  • Like cows, sheep know how to self-medicate themselves. Whenever they feel bad, the sheep know exactly what plant to eat to cure the ache.
  • Sheep are closer to Alf than I thought :) They don`t have nine, but four compartments in their stomach!
  • Their tails are actually long. Short after birth the farmers dock them, as docking is considered to improve the health and wellbeing of sheep and lambs – greatly reduces fly strike, facilitates shearing, makes it easier to observe the ewe's udder and detect potential problems.
  • The world to them is bright and shiny – sheep see in color.
  • They can’t roll over by themselves, if you ever see a sheep lying on its back, help it get up.
  • Sheep also value the concept of personal space. The flight distance depends on the situation and on the tameness or wildness of the sheep.
  • A long, long time ago sheep were believed to be sacred animals. Ancient Egyptians used to mummify them. Take that, cow and cat :)
  • Speaking of ancient cultures, another one also held sheep in reverence. Sumerians – they are thought to have developed the first form of writing, so, obviously, what they believed matters – immortalized sheep in their religion, in the form of gods.
  • While on the out-of-this-world topic: sheep represent righteousness, sincerity, gentleness, and compassion. That is according to the Chinese zodiac, where they are one of the 12 animals included.

shutterstock_93179422

So, you see, next time you call someone “a sheep” you might even be paying them a compliment :)