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Do Sheep Bite? (And How to Identify Aggression)

Do Sheep Bite? (And How to Identify Aggression)

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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Sheep are very common farm animals that many people have fallen in love with. You know that these animals are great sources of wool, but many like to raise them simply because they’re fun to care for.

As cute as sheep are, it’s still going to be important to be careful when learning to care for them. You want to be able to do things right to protect the sheep, and you also don’t want to get hurt yourself.

If you have children, then you might be concerned about whether sheep will bite them. Do sheep bite or is this a very unlikely scenario?

Below, you’ll learn more about sheep and how common it is for them to bite people. You’ll be able to take all of this information into consideration so that you can decide whether raising sheep is right for you.

Sheep Can Potentially Bite You

It is possible that a sheep could bite a human or another animal. Pretty much any animal that has teeth is going to be capable of biting you in some fashion.

This doesn’t mean that you need to be overly concerned about sheep biting people, though. It’s actually a bit tough for a sheep to bite someone due to the way that their jaws and mouths are designed.

You see, sheep have a flat palate on their upper jaw at the front of the mouth area. They evolved like this because they use the flat palate to strip leaves off of branches in nature.

It’s also helpful when sheep are trying to take in hay. As useful as this is to sheep for eating purposes, it’s going to make it tough for them to bite someone and do much damage.

Generally, sheep won’t try to bite humans out of fear or anger. If you get bit by a sheep, then it’s more than likely going to be an accident.

Some sheep owners have noted being bitten by sheep when feeding them treats by hand. The sheep might be nibbling and will accidentally bite you a bit.

Your fingers would have to go pretty far back in the sheep’s mouth for you to truly get hurt. Essentially, your hand would need to come into contact with the back molars in order for the sheep to draw blood.

It’s possible that a friendly sheep could bite you a bit when it’s nibbling on you or something like that. This might depend on how you choose to let your sheep interact with you.

You don’t have to be afraid of sheep biting you, but this doesn’t mean that sheep won’t have any aggressive tendencies. There are some things that you should know about sheep aggression if you wish to protect your family when caring for these animals.

What Do Sheep Do When They’re Feeling Aggressive?

There might be times when a sheep will start acting aggressively toward humans. This can be a bit of an annoyance, but you can learn to recognize the signs that a sheep is acting aggressive so that you can react accordingly.

When sheep are becoming aggressive, it’s possible that they might try to headbutt you or chase you in some way. You might be able to tell that they’re going to do things such as this ahead of time by paying attention to the body language of a sheep.

If you see a sheep stomping its hooves against the ground aggressively, then that’s a sign that you should expect it to act out. You might also notice the sheep shaking its head up and down.

Sometimes an aggressive sheep will maintain an aggressive posture while standing very close to you. If you wish to avoid conflict, then you could slowly back out of the sheep’s pen.

A sheep is more likely to act out like this when it’s breeding season. Some sheep are just more aggressive than others, too.

Most sheep are going to be incredibly timid and you might not ever have to deal with sheep aggression in your flock. As long as the sheep see you as the head of the flock, then they won’t dare to challenge you by acting aggressively toward you.

You don’t have much to fear from sheep because most of them won’t be able to seriously harm a human even if they want to. A very big sheep might be able to hurt you a bit by ramming into you.

Also, sheep that have horns will be a bit more dangerous, but they still don’t need to be feared. You should respect aggressive sheep so that you don’t have to deal with minor injuries and so that the sheep don’t get hurt in any way.

Most Sheep Will Just Try to Stay Away From You

Sheep can have bad days and become a bit irritable. Most sheep won’t wind up acting aggressively toward humans, though.

This is especially true if you take care of your sheep well and have bonded with them. If your sheep is uncomfortable in some way, then it might wind up trying to stay away from you so that it can be alone.

If a sheep makes loud noises when you try to get near it, then that could be a sign that it doesn’t want to be bothered. Sometimes a sheep that wants to be left alone will start stomping the ground as well, but it won’t be quite so aggressive as a sheep who is going to try to attack you.

A sheep might try to jump away from you if it really doesn’t want to be bothered. Sometimes the sheep will even show that it’s afraid by trembling.

What Causes Some Sheep to Be Aggressive?

There are a few different things that can cause certain sheep to be aggressive. You might see that a sheep will start acting this way if it is hearing loud noises such as the barking of dogs.

Sheep might be bothered by certain noises and will lash out because they don’t like it or the noises are frightening in some way. This could easily cause a sheep to start acting defensively.

Another possibility involves a mother ewe being protective of a nursing lamb. If you get close to the lamb, then sometimes a mother ewe will react negatively and might start taking an aggressive posture.

It’s also notable that sheep have very good memories and will recall negative experiences that they’ve had with people. If someone were to mistreat a sheep, then the sheep would remember that and might wind up being wary of humans.

You should be able to easily protect yourself and your family from sheep by being smart about how you interact with them. Treat the sheep with kindness and respect so that they won’t feel as if you’re a threat to them.

Respect the personal space of the sheep and be sure that your children don’t interact with the sheep without supervision if you’re concerned. It’s very unlikely that you’ll have big problems with sheep, but you can take precautions to have a good experience just to be safe.

Final Thoughts

It’s possible for sheep to bite humans, but this doesn’t happen too much. Sheep can’t easily bite humans because they have a flat palate on their upper jaw that’s designed for grabbing food such as leaves and hay.

This doesn’t mean that it’s impossible for a sheep to bite a human, but it’s often something that just occurs by accident. If you’re concerned about sheep aggression, then you can look out for the signs of aggression and learn to react accordingly.

Most sheep will be very docile and you won’t need to be concerned about your family’s safety when you have sheep on the property. Just treat the sheep well and care for their needs.

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