One of the prized domesticated animals in the world, sheep, are an interesting species. Apart from providing milk, wool, and food, they are also considered a sacred species by many cultures. Egyptians mummify sheep, Chinese have a year represented by the sheep, and ancient Sumerians believed sheep to be one of their God forms. There are several cool facts about sheep that one could share with kids if they happen to love every farm visit and enjoy the rendezvous with the timid creatures. Read on to learn some amazing facts about sheep.
How Do Sheep Look?
Sheep generally have an oval or egg-shaped head with antennae on either side of the head. The body is covered entirely in fleece and has a short tail. They have rectangular pupils with a 360-degree vision, allowing them to see almost everything around them and behind them without turning their heads. This helps them to detect predators. They have a cleft in their upper lip called the philtrum. Sheep are grazers and picky too and like to eat the best vegetation. The philtrum lets them select the best food for themselves. Sheep have no upper teeth, and the lower teeth press upwards against the stiff upper palate to break the food.
Where Do Sheep Live?
Sheep tend to reside in mountainous regions, plains with lots of grass, and areas with large stretches of land. They are herbivores and like to live in areas where they can graze.
How Long Do Sheep Live?
Domesticated sheep tend to live for about 10-12 years, similar to large breeds of dogs. An adult sheep is called a “ram,” and some rams live longer than 20 years. The oldest sheep died at the age of 23, as per the Guinness Book of World Records.
What Do Sheep Eat?
Do Sheep Communicate With Each Other?
There are some weird facts about sheep that will be of great interest to children. Interestingly, sheep do communicate with each other. They are social animals and love being part of a group. Right from birth, they are independent, playful, and also mischievous at times. Sheep tend to stay close to each other in a herd so that it helps them move together to fresh and new pastures while staying in safe company. Highly intelligent and social animals, sheep form strong bonds with one another. The attachment of a lamb and mother is strong, and they also have strong friendships with each other. Research has shown that sheep can recognize and differentiate between emotional expressions like angry, frowning, and smiling. It is an essential skill for sheep as this forms the basis of developing relationships. They can even recognize human faces.
Other Facts and Information About Sheep for Children
Besides habitat, appearance, and longevity, random facts about sheep can greatly interest children. Read on to find out more:
- Sheep have an excellent sense of smell, with scent glands located in their eyes and feet.
- Studies have revealed that sheep have excellent memories of memorizing the faces of up to 50 sheep and keeping them in their memory for two years. Sheep can distinguish between 25 pairs by associating a food reward to one sheep in a pair. Sheep can also navigate through complex mazes, learn and remember them well.
- Sheep can self-medicate in case they fall ill. Interestingly, sheep use plants and other ingredients which have no nutritional value to prevent or treat disease. Sheep teach this trait to their young ones.
- Sheep are emotionally complex and experience a range of emotions, just like human beings. Studies and research have shown that sheep can feel bored, angry, sad, happy, and anxious; they can also exhibit emotions typical to pessimists and optimists. It is not restricted to simply feeling basic emotions but experiencing a relationship between their feelings and interaction and cognition.
- A sheep named Dolly, in 1996, was the first sheep to be cloned from a somatic cell.
- China is a country that is known to have the largest number of sheep in the world. There are over 1 billion sheep in the world. There are over 1 billion sheep in the world.
- A female sheep is called a “ewe” and shares a strong bond with her baby. Their bond is so strong that a mother sheep can recognize her young one with her cell or bleat.
- There are 1000 distinct breeds of sheep in the world. Species like Hebridean and Navajo-Churro can grow up to 2, 4, and 6 horns, while Racka sheep possess long spiral-shaped horns. The Najdi sheep has long silky hair, unlike curly hair that is typical in other sheep breeds.
- Sheep belong to the Bovidae family, and their scientific name is Ovis Aries.
- Sheep can grow wool forever, and, depending on the breed, a sheep can grow between 2 and 30 pounds of wool in a year.
- Sheep cannot right themselves if they are on their back. Sheep that are pregnant, overweight, or have heavy fleece on their back can find it difficult to right themselves if they have fallen on their back for any reason. This is called a “cast” sheep. So if you ever find a sheep in this position, help or reach out to a farmer.
- A lot of presidents of the United States of America have a deep connection with sheep. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison used to raise sheep. Madison wore a coat from sheep’s wool for his swearing-in ceremony.
The term “sheepish” may seem like associating someone with a sheep with very reclusive qualities. But contrary to the term coined, sheep are an intelligent species that rely heavily on their innate ability to survive, connect, and thrive in nature.