• Claire Thompson

Fact Friday: Sheep Vision

We thought it would be fun to introduce Fact Friday to you and teach you a few snippets about some of our amazing residents! We're constantly learning about the animals and would love to share some of our knowledge with you, and of course, if you’ve got a burning question, send it our way - maybe we can make yours our next Fact?

So, today’s Fact: Sheep have excellent peripheral VISION. Have you ever looked at one of our sheep friends and noticed their eyes at the sides of their heads? This gives them monocular vision and allows them to see around 270-320 degrees (to put that into some context, we can see around 155 degrees on average). In fact, they can see behind themselves without even turning their heads! That said, they do also have a small blind spot directly behind and in front of themselves, so do bear this in mind when approaching a sheep as you can easily spook them! Talk calmly to them as you approach to let them know you are there and try not to approach directly from behind them or straight in front - petting them on the head may also startle them if they don’t know what you’re doing. Take your time, be patient, gentle and respectful.

You may have also noticed that sheep eyes have rectangular pupils, and this also aids their peripheral range of vision, however this affects their depth perception too. You will often find that prey animals have these horizontal rectangular pupils aiding their awareness of their surroundings and predators creeping up on them, while predators tend to have circular pupils or vertical slits (have a look at your cat’s eyes!) that limit their peripheral vision but instead give them the ability to easily gauge distance and speed that their prey is travelling at.

Most prey animals, like our sheep, have monocular vision. Whereas predators tend to have binocular vision (next time you visit, look at the owls and where their eyes are compared to the sheep!)

Oh, and here’s something for you to try at home. Keep your head down and roll your eyes up to the ceiling and see how long you can hold them like that. It doesn’t take long before it becomes uncomfortable for you, does it? Sheep can do this for very long periods of time! As sheep spend up to seven hours a day grazing, it’s important for them to be able to look up at the same time and be aware of their surroundings too - remember, they’re prey animals and they don’t want a predator creeping into that blind spot while they’re munching! Sheep can rotate their eyes upwards 50 degrees and comfortably hold them for long periods, unlike us.

We’ve just scratched the surface of sheep sight here and this is just one of their amazing senses. There’s so much more to these animals than you might think at first glance, and we hope you enjoy learning more about them, as we do all the time!

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