Having gone on rather a lot about alligators since I started living in the USA, and given that this British expat blog is called From Sheep to Alligators, I thought that in the interests of fairness if I should dedicate this post to those splendid woolly quadrupedal, ruminant mammals from the North of England, otherwise known as sheep. Rather than risk boring you with reality, however, I thought that I would amaze you with my 10 completely untrue sheep facts!
1. Sheep are predominantly nocturnal animals with specially adapted eye lids that help them to identify their favorite prey in the dark. Their diet typically consists of worms, spiders, hedgehogs, and men walking home from the pub.
2. The Eiffel tower in Paris, France, is made entirely out of wool. It was knitted in 1872 by Marie LeBouche, wife of the famous Belgian biologist and philosopher, Francois LeBouche. The design is based on pattern from Scotland.
3. We all love to open our electronic mails and surf the interweb, but did you know that the “http” that begins each website address was invented by a sheep called Tony?
4. Sheep were valued in ancient Japan for their physical dexterity, ultrasonic hearing abilities and basket-weaving skills. They were also believed to possess psychic powers!
5. The sheep mating season occurs in late July and early August with a typical ewe (female sheep) laying somewhere between ten and twenty eggs. Young sheep, known as lambs, build intricate webs which they use to catch flies, which they live on until they are old enough to leave the nest.
6. The oldest male sheep ever known was called Franklin, who reached the ripe old age of 87 years old. After opening a successful chain of health food shops during the 1970s, he died tragically in 1983 after being implicated in a financial scandal.
7. Sheep have existed since the time of the dinosaurs. Ten million year old sheep fossils have been discovered as far a field as the deserts of South Yorkshire and swamps of North Wales. Ancient sheep possessed elongated canine teeth which they used to inject a venom twice as potent as that of the black widow spider into their prey. These “saber-toothed sheep” grew up to 3 metres (10 ft) tall.
8. Tough guy actor, John Wayne was phobic of sheep and once refused to go out on a film set in New Zealand because of his fear of being savaged. “It is the way that they look at me,” he told one Aukland reporter.
9. Gambling is a serious problem amongst young sheep. Although exact figures are difficult to collect, it is thought that as many as 75% of lambs have addiction issues.
10. Black sheep were the victims of prejudice in the 19th and 19th centuries with their dark color being labeled as the mark of the devil… Hold on a minute, this fact is true!