It All Depends on the Breed
We all have seen GIFs and videos on the internet of goats fainting and falling on the ground. Not all goats, however, faint. The ones who do belong to a specific breed exhibit a peculiar behaviour of fainting. The breed goes by an array of names. Some refer to them as Tennessee fainting goats, while others call them Myotonic goats. There are more nicknames for this breed, including wooden-leg goats, fall-down goats, Tennessee meat goats, scare goats, stiff-leg goats, and so on.
No, They Aren’t Overly Dramatic
You might think that these goats are either too meek or too dramatic that they faint at the tiniest provocation. You are entirely wrong. Faint goats do not actually faint on hitting the ground. Throughout the time, these creatures remain conscious!
This is Because of a Disease
Myotonic goats or Tennessee fainting goats are born with myotonia congenital. It is a congenital condition also called Thomsen’s disease. It leads to the seizing up of muscles when the goats get startled. The result of this is falling upon being scared, which looks like fainting.
Chances are, we have all experienced something similar. When we are startled, our muscles start seizing up very suddenly. It is a unique condition interfering with the normal fight-or-flight reaction of the goats. As their muscles do not release quickly, they can neither defend themselves nor run away. After seizing up, the muscles stay that way for some seconds to even a minute or more. As a result, the goats fall like they have fainted as they cannot release the stiff legs.
Thank God, This Doesn’t Hurt
Luckily, the entire process generally does not injure the ‘fainting’ goats. These spells rarely cause any injury or pain. The young goats are more prone to fall over. Through maturity, the goats start learning how to keep standing even with stiff legs. (See Do Animals Sweat?)
Goats are Not the Only Ones
There are more animals apart from goats who suffer from myotonia congenital. Even human beings, as well as mice, can be born with this condition. However, it is just the goats that fall over due to their stocky bodies and four legs.
Goats are actually the only animals that are specifically bred for maintaining these conditions. Although Myotonic goats are usually referred to as the goats of the hardy breed and usually reared for meat, their genetic condition makes them an amusing and unique pet. They are increasingly bred for this condition.
Humans Have Saved this Breed
Some people disagree with breeding these goats for being pets. However, people continue raising them as pets or for their meat. They fall the moment a predator appears, which would have led to their killing and, eventually, extinction. These goats would have vanished from the face of Earth because of natural selection had humans not bred them.
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