What Are Fainting Goats?

Ever felt so alarmed by a sneaky person that you thought you would pass out? One breed of goats actually does fall down when startled.

Although they're called "fainting goats," the animals don't actually fall unconscious. They're just paralyzed for a few moments.

Fainting goats are a breed of goats that have myotonia, an inherited neurological condition that makes it difficult to relax the muscles. Humans can have this neurological disorder as well, but it usually only results in a stiff walk or difficulty getting up from a chair.

The condition makes fainting goats collapse on the ground with their bodies stiff and rigid. The animals stay that way for 10 to 15 seconds, at which point they rise and awkwardly walk away, according to the International Fainting Goat Association (IFGA).

You can tell these goats apart from other breeds due to their big, conspicuous eyes; their colors and coat textures vary like those of other goats.

While the condition produces dramatic effects in the animals, the neurological disorder doesn't hurt a domestic goat's health in the long run, according to the IFGA. Fainting goats, if properly cared for, will live from 10 to 18 years, the same lifespan as most other breeds of goat.

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Elizabeth Howell
Live Science Contributor
Elizabeth Howell is a regular contributor to Live Science and Space.com, along with several other science publications. She is one of a handful of Canadian reporters who specializes in space reporting. Elizabeth has a Bachelor of Journalism, Science Concentration at Carleton University (Canada) and an M.Sc. Space Studies (distance) at the University of North Dakota. Elizabeth became a full-time freelancer after earning her M.Sc. in 2012. She reported on three space shuttle launches in person and once spent two weeks in an isolated Utah facility pretending to be a Martian.