14 things you didn't know about goats
Baby goats are as cute as puppies. When you see one, you just want to pick it up and cuddle it and take it home. In fact, researchers found that goats are more like dogs than we thought. They’ll look people in the eye when they’re frustrated with a task and could use a little help, according to a study published in Biology Letters.
So we know they’re cute and dog-like. What else do we know about these doe-eyed creatures? Here are lots of interesting goat facts.
1. Goats were among the first livestock species to be domesticated, about 10,000 years ago. Goat remains have been found at archaeological sites in western Asia dating back about 9,000 years, according to the National Zoo.
2. Goats prefer happy faces. In a simple experiment, researchers put photos on the wall at a goat sanctuary of the same face: one happy and one angry. Goats tended to avoid the angry faces and approach the happy ones. Said lead author Christian Nawroth: “Here, we show for the first time that goats do not only distinguish between these expressions, but they also prefer to interact with happy ones.”
3. Goats also have richer emotional lives than many people realize. Not only are they surprisingly intelligent in general, but they can also identify their friends by sound alone and even distinguish other goats’ emotions by listening to their calls. They have different physiological reactions based on the emotions they hear from other goats, a sign of a social phenomenon known as emotional contagion.
4. Both male and female goats can have beards. Both can also have wattles — hair-covered appendages of flesh, usually around the throat area. Wattles serve no purpose and aren’t harmful to the goat.
5. Goats are generally pretty hardy animals, but the one thing they don’t seem to like is rain. According to the USDA National Agricultural Library, “Goats will run to the nearest available shelter on the approach of a storm, often arriving before the first drops of rain have fallen. They also have an intense dislike for water puddles and mud. Probably through evolution they have been more free of parasites if they have avoided wet spots.”
6. There are two types of goats: domestic goats (Capra hircus), which are the kind you find on a farm, and mountain goats (Oreamnos americanus), which typically live in steep, rocky areas in the northwestern United States.
7. Some people are creeped out by the odd side-slit pupils in a goat’s eyes. Researchers say side-slanted eyes typically belong to grazing prey. It gives them a wider field of vision, but they don’t absorb as much light from above. This stops the sun from blinding their view and lets them keep an eye out for predators.
8. Goats can survive on the thinnest patches of grass, according to Animal Diversity Web, so the only place goats can’t live are tundras, deserts and aquatic habitats. There are even some feral groups of goats on Hawaii and other islands.
9. Goat coats come in a rainbow of colors and even a few patterns. They can be white, black, brown and red. Their coat patterns can be solid, striped, spotted, a blend of shades and they can have stripes on their faces.
10. Goats are born with teeth. Those baby teeth eventually fall out and adults end up with 32 teeth: 24 molars and 8 lower incisors. Goats don’t have teeth in their upper front jaw. Instead, a hard dental pad acts like teeth.
11. A female goat is a doe or nanny. A male goat is a buck or billy, or a wether if he’s castrated. A baby goat is a kid, and giving birth is called kidding. A group of goats is called a tribe or a trip.
12. Goat size varies greatly, depending on the breed. On the tiny end, Nigerian dwarf goats weigh only about 20 pounds. On the larger size, Anglo-Nubian goats can weigh as much as 250 pounds, reports the National Zoo.
13. Like cows, goats are what’s known as ruminants. meaning they have a complex system of stomachs for digestion. Goats graze using their lips, teeth and tongue. It then takes 11 to 15 hours for food to pass through the animal’s four stomachs.
14. According to Norse mythology, during a thunderstorm Thor, the god of thunder, rode in a chariot pulled by two goats, Tanngrisni and Tanngnost.
Editor’s note: This story was originally written July 2016 and has been updated with new information.
14 things you didn’t know about goats
We know they’re cute and even dog-like, but here are a lot more cool facts about goats.