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Goats: Fainting Goats

Pygmy goats looking through a fence
"A Young Fainting Goat in the Midst of a Myotonic Spell";
used with permission under Creative Commons

The fainting goat (also known as the myotonic goat) is a domesticated goat that has become very popular due to its very peculiar involuntary habit--it literally “faints” when startled!

While it may look like these fascinating furballs take a bit of a nap when startled, the truth of the matter is that they are actually wide awake. When they are startled, their muscles tighten up so much that they become frozen for about 3 seconds. This tightening up causes the goat to fall over. These goats faint as part of a genetic disorder they posses, called myotonia congenita. Just as quickly as they fall over, however, they right get back up and run away again--no harm done! Hooray!

Pygmy goats looking through a fence
"Non-Fainting Fainting Goats" by Steenaire;
used with permission under CC BY 2.0

Older fainting goats often get wise regarding their condition: when they are frightened, they will try and balance on their stiffened leg muscles instead of falling over. This can be just as peculiar of a sight as they momentarily look like they are frozen in a balanced state.

Fainting goats are most commonly black and white, but they have been spotted with a variety of coat colours on farms all over the world. These goats have become very popular on YouTube and social media since their fainting act is very comical to the young and old alike!

Enjoy this short and very popular YouTube video with footage of these magnificent (albeit, hilarious) animals: