Do Goats Really Sleep Standing Up?

Many people assume that goats sleep standing up, as is the case for some other herbivorous species (like horses). However, the reality is a little more complex here, which is why we’re on hand today to give you a little more insight into the complex world of goat sleeping patterns, including whether or not goats sleep standing up, the importance of sleep for a goat, and the like. After all, just like us, goats need plenty of sleep to stay healthy and well – and understanding this can help make you a better goat owner and more aware of their unique needs accordingly.

How Do Goats Sleep? 

Many people are not sure about how goats sleep. Indeed, “do goats sleep standing up” is a pretty common question since this is a common habit with horses. In fact, the majority of horses will spend most of their sleeping time standing up. But what’s the truth about goat sleeping patterns? 

Well, in most cases, goats sleep as you’d expect: like normal. But what does this mean? 

The Truth About Goat Sleeping Habits

Goat sleeping habits are similar to most other herbivores: while they doze or rest while standing up, they won’t sleep properly until they lie down. Usually, a goat will curl its legs underneath itself, although some may stretch their legs out straight instead – they may have individual preferences. However, goats do not sleep properly standing up, which can come as something of a shock to many people.

The Infamous “Goat Death Nap”

What’s more, it’s well worth keeping in mind that goats will often do a “death pose” during sleep. The first time you see this as a goat keeper, be prepared – you’ll probably be filled with terror! Indeed, during a so-called “death pose” nap, your goat may lie flat out on its side with its legs held straight out in front of it. The goat will usually be in an incredibly deep sleep during this, which gives an illusion of the goat being dead! 

This typically happens when your goat is in an incredibly deep sleep, and it can feel like no amount of shouting and hollering will wake them up. Sometimes, they may not even stir initially when you stroke them, which can be terrifying to watch. However, persist if this happens to you, and your goat should eventually wake up. Of course, goats being goats, they won’t stir until they’ve scared you half to death first! 

What if my Goat Doesn’t Wake From a Death Nap? 

If your goat doesn’t seem to stir from a dreaded death nap, the most important thing to do is check that it is breathing. A goat in a “death nap” may have incredibly slow breathing, so checking the goat’s nose for small movements can be the best indicator of whether they’re breathing. 

You should also quickly check the goat’s temperature; putting your finger carefully on its gums is a good way to see if they are cold to the touch. If their gums are cold, your goat may have actually passed away in its sleep.

If you have any concerns about your goat, getting it to a local veterinarian as soon as possible is crucial. Potentially, what looks like a very deep sleep could actually be a sign that your goat is incredibly ill or even in a coma; these may not be treatable, depending on the cause, which is why quick intervention is critical.

Why Do Goats Not Sleep Standing Up?

Unlike horses, goats do not naturally sleep standing up since they do not have the ability of horses to lock their legs. Horses have evolved this skill to allow them to sleep while remaining on alert for danger.

Indeed, the process of standing up when your legs are as long as a horse is not a quick process, and the time for a horse to stand could be enough for a predator to pounce! As such, for horses, the ability to sleep standing up substantially improves their chances of survival in a wild situation – however, horses may still sleep lying down occasionally.

However, goats do not have the same limitations with standing up as horses. In fact, if a sleeping goat hears you rustle a bag of food, it’ll often be up in a blink of an eye – meaning there’s no need for the goat to sleep standing up. As such, goat’s cannot lock their legs to sleep and will instead sleep lying down.

However, a goat may relax or dose with its head lowered while standing. This is not really the same as deep sleep, but it is easy to mistake this for sleeping soundly. 

What Other Quirks Do Goats Get When Sleeping? 

In addition to the quirk of the dreaded death nap, goats can often display several other quirks while sleeping. Perhaps the spookiest thing I’ve seen is a goat sleeping with its eyes open. In addition, while resting (but not actively sleeping), your goat will likely chew its cud to help with digestion.

How Much Sleep do Goats Need? 

While your goat does not necessarily need much sleep, it will spend a large quantity of its time lying down and resting. This is because the rumination process is very time-consuming, and requires the goat to rechew its food at a time when it feels safe and comfortable. As such, rumination is often considered a good sign of ruminant health and happiness.

Final Thoughts

It’s not always clear how goats sleep, and this can leave many people (understandably) assuming that goats sleep in a similar way to horses. However, this is not actually the case since goats cannot naturally lock their limbs while asleep. As such, goats sleep like most other animals instead of laying down. However, if you notice that your goat is standing up and it looks like they are sleeping, the most likely explanation is that they are unwell. 

As such, one of the first things you should do in this scenario is to check your goat’s vitals – for example, their temperature, their anemia levels, and their breathing rate. You may also need to get veterinary support if you are concerned about your goat’s health.

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