Fainting goats: Unraveling unusual animal behaviors

Funny animal videos where animals exhibit unusual behaviors like the viral fainting goat often surface on the internet, but are the animals in those videos actually trying to be funny? Well, the  answer is no.

A lot of netizens found the clip of a fainting goat hilarious: the viral video shows goats that seem overly-dramatic. After being startled by a moving object, they faint and then after a few seconds, get up and walk away like nothing happened. 

These ‘fainting’ goats have a hereditary genetic disorder called myotonia congenita: rather than the usual fight or flight response of animals when sensing danger, myotonic goats’ muscles become tense, making them appear to have fainted. Although seeming like unconscious, these goats do not actually faint or lose consciousness, their muscles get tense for a few seconds and relax after they have sensed that the danger is gone. 

Other animals’ unusual behaviors are often caused by some odd animal reflex, making them involuntarily respond to situations that startle them. There are various reflexes such as cats’ righting reflex or their ability to land on their feet after falling; horses’ flehmen reflex, where their upper lip curls back, baring their teeth when they smell something new; and the dogs’ scratching reflex to keep themselves safe from biting ticks. 

Although these things may appear hilarious, there is a real and psychological reason behind those unusual actions that animals often exhibit. 

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