The purpose of this blog is to share general information and is written to the author's best knowledge. It is not intended to be used in place of veterinary advice. For health concerns, please seek proper veterinary care.
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Unprovoked animal attacks are common. Sharks, bears, and even snake attacks are reported in several cases. All of these animals, however, are wild animals.
What about farm animals? How about sheep, for instance? Do sheep attack humans? Let’s find out!
Do Sheep Attack Humans?
Humans being assaulted by sheep is a rare occurrence. Sheep are often scared easily. As a result, they like to stay a safe distance or flee.
But a sheep that has young lambs could be aggressive if she sensed any danger targeted to her young ones.
Most likely, if there’s an attack, a ram would be responsible. A ram is a male sheep. Rams are usually aggressive, especially before and during the breeding season.
If the ram believes there’s a threat, he’ll turn hostile and possibly attack you. An attack usually happens if the ram feels that the flock is in danger or young lambs are present.
Keep an eye out for foot-stomping as it usually means that the ram feels aggravated and wants you to leave.
Signs That a Sheep Will Attack You
You can tell a lot by the sheep’s body language with regard to how they’re feeling. If you observe their behavior, you’ll be able to know whether you’re welcome to get close or not.
Signs that a sheep might be feeling uneasy include:
- As you get closer, the sheep makes loud vocal sounds
- Stomping the ground
- The sheep has its back arched
- Jumping to prevent getting too close
- The sheep is swaying its head up and down
- Trying to approach you too closely while keeping a hostile stance
- Biting or headbutting you
If you witness these behaviors in a sheep, don’t attempt to flee by running. The sheep can outrun you. Instead, back away slowly away from the sheep.
Differences Between a Sheep and a Ram
It’s possible that the distinction between a sheep and a ram isn’t clear to some. However, there are significant differences between the two.
The word ‘sheep’ is a generic word that refers to male and female sheep. Female sheep are referred to as ewes, whereas male sheep are referred to as rams.
A lamb is a sheep that is younger than the age of 12 months.
A ram, also known as bighorn sheep, is a male sheep who is at least 12 months old. They can be hostile during the breeding season.
They will wrestle other rams for the chance to breed with the female sheep. If they feel unsafe or threatened by other rams, they will become violent.
However, this isn’t always the case with all rams.
Things That Will Aggravate Sheep
Sheep attacks are infrequent occurrences, but there are some things to keep in mind to avoid enraging sheep and rams.
Sheep are easily startled by loud sounds, especially high-pitched sounds. Screams and dog bark, in particular, can cause the sheep to flee and have a defensive reaction.
Even if it doesn’t seem to be facing the same position, a sheep will turn its head and ears toward the noise.
To avoid accidents, be careful with loudness near sheep.
When trapped and harassed, sheep can become aggressive. A scared sheep will try to attack you in an attempt to escape.
When you’re near sheep, make sure you’re in a large area—ideally, in a field.
Poking The Head
Scratching or poking a ram’s head isn’t recommended. Trying to touch the ram’s head, which is its primary weapon, might be seen as a hostile act by the ram.
This is why it’s so important not to pet a ram on the head. Even if it looks to be nice and friendly, this behavior has the potential to quickly shift the ram’s mood.
Things to Do to Defend Yourself From a Sheep Attack
There are precautions you may take to reduce your risk of being attacked by sheep.
Avoid Eye Contact
Avoid direct eye contact. The ram will view direct eye contact as a danger to their dominance and flock. Also, they’ll believe you’re invading their domain.
Shift your sight away from them and look slightly downwards.
Stay on a High Ground
Sheep generally feel tired when they run across high terrains, such as hill slopes. As a result, always pass through a sheep area on the highest ground possible.
Approach the Sheep
While it might be a scary tactic, approach the sheep as soon as it begins to back away from you.
This action will confuse the sheep, forcing it to retreat. This will provide you with an escape window to withdraw into safety.
If you’re confined or in a small space with a fearful sheep, they may turn aggressive and try to flee in any possible way.
So, whenever you enter a new area, make sure you and the sheep have a clear exit route.
Befriending Sheep and Rams
Sheep are sometimes thought of as cute animals, and it’s easy to see why someone might want to befriend them.
However, you need to be cautious when approaching sheep. It’s easy to break their trust if you approach them in the wrong way.
While you can befriend sheep, it’s vital to remember that they’re still easily scared.
They’re also very reliant on their flock and will become disturbed if they separate from them. They’re not meant to be pets like dogs or cats. Having said that, there are certain ways for taming and befriending sheep.
Slowly approach them and be cautious and gentle with your handling. If the sheep flee, don’t try to grasp them or run after them. They’ll feel spooked and won’t trust you.
When you get close to the sheep, try feeding them by hand. If you do this frequently enough, the sheep will become accustomed to you.
The majority of domesticated sheep enjoy having their chins rubbed. Additionally, some like their backs and bellies rubbed. Petting them in this manner, of course, should be done over time.
Make sure you stick to the same routine every day. They’ll start figuring out that you mean no harm and will begin enjoying your presence.
You should enter their zone and rest on the grass. When you get down to their height, the sheep will be a bit calmer and are likely to approach you.
Don’t get up till they’re comfortable with you. They may perceive you as a threat if you’re towering over them while standing.
Because of their aggressive temperament, rams are difficult to befriend.
Adult male sheep should be left alone, especially during breeding seasons. If there are young lambs in the vicinity, they could become hostile as well.
Even if you train a small ram from birth, he can still be dangerous, so be cautious.
Humans are rarely attacked by sheep. Rams, on the other hand, are violent adult male sheep who are more inclined to attack people.
When the sheep starts stomping on the ground or moving its head up and down, you can tell it’s agitated.
Loud noises and petting on the head have been known to cause sheep to become more aggressive toward humans or anyone in the area.
Try to avoid eye contact and attempt to stay on high ground to avoid sheep attacks.
Lastly, while it’s possible to befriend a sheep, it’s considerably more difficult to befriend a ram. As a result, it’s advisable to leave rams alone.