A few days ago, one of my friends sent me this on twitter and as a joke said to me, 'paranormal at play or sick goats?'.
The great sheep mystery! Hundreds of sheep walk in a circle for over 10 days in N China's Inner Mongolia. The sheep are healthy and the reason for the weird behavior is still a mystery. pic.twitter.com/8Jg7yOPmGK— People's Daily, China (@PDChina) November 16, 2022
I have since seen it pop up on various news sites. While some on twitter are claiming something supernatural is at play and people don't know why it is happening, it seems however the same explanation has been offered many times, yet it is not as interesting or spooky as many hope. The owner of the sheep initially commented that a few sheep started walking in a circle and soon the whole flock joined in. Where it started to become interesting was while there were many pens of sheep on the property, it was only this pen where the sheep were affected. The part where it starts to get eerie is that it was in pen 13 - a number that in Chinese culture is often avoided. I always remembered when I would travel to China many years ago for work, and hotels I stayed at didn't have a 13th floor which I was told was because of superstition. While at the time of writing this article it hasn't been 100% confirmed as the cause, it is likely to be a result of the bacterial infection listeriosis. It would also explain why only one particular pen was affected. One of the common features of this disease in sheep in particular, is that it makes them walk in circles.
Listeria is a common bacterium found in the gut of normal sheep. It can also survive and multiply in the environment, particularly rotting vegetable matter, but also soil, water, manure and feed (including pasture), and can survive for up to five years.
Compared to other bacteria, it is quite hardy and can withstand a range of pH, temperatures and salt conditions. Feeding silage with a pH above 5.5 is often associated with outbreaks of listeriosis. The disease commonly occurs under wet and muddy conditions. Other predisposing factors for clinical listeriosis in sheep include: sudden change in weather, change in feeding regime, introduction of carrier animals, confinement, overcrowding, poor sanitation, stress, advanced pregnancy, feeding silage, access to rotting hay or vegetation, and feeding sheep on the ground. Signs are usually seen eight to nine days after infection.
The two forms of clinical listeriosis seen in sheep are the neurological form and the abortion form.
can affect any breed and at any age
often circling, staggering, head tilt, off-feed, found dead
affected pregnant ewes of any age in the second to final month of pregnancy
Behaviour aside, one can imagine the kind of crop circle that would leave behind. It reminded me of a picture I had seen on social media days earlier about Wallabies getting high and jumping around in circles creating a crop circle. Wallabies for those who don't know are basically like small kangaroos and are common in Tasmania. It just so happens that Tasmania happens to be one of the World's biggest producers of legally grown opium for pharmaceuticals. Papaver somniferum is the plant species from which opium and poppy seeds are grown. Opium is the source of many narcotics including morphine (and its derivative heroin), thebaine, codeine, papaverine, and noscapine. The wallabies find themselves getting into the poppy fields for a snack, and suddenly they are high on opium. It is not just wallabies either, apparently, the sheep do it too! What results are some amazing crop circles!
Crop circles in Australia are created by wallabies who get high in poppy fields. pic.twitter.com/p6FGkdy5Tj— Weird Science (@weird_sci) July 17, 2021
So it seems in these two cases, it probably isn't alients. That is not to say there are not some weird crop circles that pop up and strange lights in the sky. In these two cases, however, it does make us think a little more about options a - a is for animal!
Cover Photo: https://pixabay.com/photos/ufo-abduction-fantasy-bicycle-1673929/
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