Most people think they understand sheep. But these creatures are far more nuanced than you might realise. Here are 17 interesting facts about sheep that prove as much:
A sheep’s wool never stops growing. This is particularly true for domestic breeds of sheep. A sheep that hadn’t been sheared for years produced nearly a hundred pounds of fleece in 2015.
Sheep pupils are not like human pupils. First of all, they are rectangular in shape. Secondly, they have 320-degree vision―that is vastly superior to the 155 degrees that human eyes offer. The pupils of a sheep are critical to their survival because they are the prey of so many creatures.
Sheep are better grazers than most other herbivores. You can blame this on the philtrum, a groove separating the upper lip which lets the animals get very close to the ground when grazing.
Female sheep are called ewes. They always form a strong bond with their young ones. They can easily recognise the bleating of a lamb that got lost because it wandered too far.
Wild sheep are larger than their domesticated counterparts, the largest being 1.2 meters tall. Because they have to fend for themselves against predators, their horns are also longer.
Personality and Intelligence
Sheep are very friendly. If you have ever encountered one, you know that, like dogs, they wag their tails. What you might not realise is the fact that they can form very strong bonds with other animals, not just fellow sheep but people and even goats.
Sheep have good memories, hence their friendly nature. They can remember 50 different sheep. The same goes for humans, and that is the minimum number. They retain this memory for years. Science has determined that the process sheep use to remember isn’t that different from what has been seen in humans.
When sheep fall sick, they self medicate. They know the plants that they need to eat to cure their ailments.
All this proves one thing: sheep are not stupid. That is the prevailing theory but it is false. Sheep are no different from cows in this arena. Science has proven that they can solve complex problems when challenged to do so.
If you’ve ever seen sheep, you probably noticed that they always flock together. This trait is present in most sheep. As gregarious creatures, they prefer to operate in groups.
There are over a billion sheep in the world and nearly a thousand species.
History and Culture
Sheep meat is consumed by people in most countries around the world. The same goes for sheep milk. The Mongolians are interesting though because they add sheep eyes to tomato juice to create hangover cures.
The Egyptians did not necessarily worship sheep. But they considered them to be sacred creatures, which is why individual sheep were mummified like their human counterparts upon death.
The ancient Sumerians, on the other hand, deified sheep.
The Ancient Greeks would use the bones of sheep to make dice.
The sheep industry has existed for at least ten thousand years.
Bonus Sheep Fact!
The rumors are almost true. A sheep on its back can’t right itself, not without help. But this only applies to pregnant sheep or sheep with too much wool.
Do you have any fun or interesting facts about sheep that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!