Sheep enjoying a treat

Do Sheep Bite Humans? How Common Is It?

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Understanding sheep behavior is difficult if you don’t spend much time around these farm animals. You may be tempted to pet and play with sheep, particularly since they are super cute and known for their gentle and calm demeanor, but before doing so, ask yourself, do sheep bite humans?

Sheep can bite other animals and humans, but this is not common. In addition, due to the design of their mouths and jaws, it is difficult for these animals to bite you. Sheep will not bite you out of aggression or anger; if they do, it will be by accident.

With that said, let’s explore this topic further below.

Sheep enjoying a treat

Do Sheep Bite Humans?

All animals with teeth can bite, but sheep do not tend to bite humans or other animals. These animals are not typically aggressive and often keep to themselves, spending time in a flock. They will not try to bite you out of anger or fear, but you can be bitten by sheep accidentally.

Your sheep can bite if you try feeding them treats such as apples or carrots with your hand. They could bite you accidentally while nibbling.

However, it will not hurt unless your fingers go far back into the mouth of the sheep. The bottom line is your hand must reach the sheep’s back molars for you to bleed.

Sheep teeth, mouths, and jaws make it hard for them to cause damage if they bite you and other animals.

The front upper jaw evolved to a flat palate to help sheep to strip leaves from branches easily and also comes in handy when feeding on hay.

However, while this characteristic is beneficial during feeding, it makes it hard for sheep to cause damage if they bite.

Depending on your relationship with your sheep, they might bite you in a friendly manner while nibbling on you.

Although sheep are gentle creatures, you should pay attention to them as they can become aggressive for various reasons, leading to them biting you, chasing you, or even headbutting you.

What Could Cause Sheep to Bite Humans?

Most sheep are incredibly timid. Therefore, you will likely not have to deal with aggressive sheep that can bite in your flock, especially if they recognize you as their leader.

However, sheep can act out, especially during the breeding season.

Below are the things that could make sheep bite.

1. Mothers Protecting their Lambs

Sheep have strong motherly instincts, so they might bite to protect their young ones from danger. A mother ewe can react negatively and even become aggressive if you go near its lambs.

READ ALSO: How Long Do Sheep Stay Pregnant? Everything You Need To Know

2. When Stressed or Threatened

Usually, sheep run away from danger and threats, but they can also get aggressive and even bite to defend themselves.

In addition, certain noises, such as a barking dog, might stress your sheep out, causing them to lash out.

3. A Negative Experience In The Past with a Human

Sheep have an excellent memory, so they will remember if you treat them well or poorly.

Therefore, if you mistreat your sheep, they will recall this bad experience and become wary of humans.

Due to this, the sheep might aggressively react when they see humans, charge at them, and even bite them.

4. They Can Nibble on You Accidentally While Feeding

Feeding sheep treats with your hand can be a great way to bond and spend time with them, but you risk getting your hand bitten, albeit by accident.

Fortunately, this will not likely hurt you, so you can easily brush it off.

children feeding sheep carrots

How To Handle A Sheep That Bites

Being bitten is not fun, but how you handle your sheep when they bite will depend on whether it is a one-time thing or happens often.

You can overlook the incident if your sheep bites you accidentally, but you must act if your sheep bite and hold on until it hurts.

Here is what to do:

Stay Calm

The bite will get harder the more you try to pry off the body part the sheep is biting onto, so it is better to remain calm, stop moving, and stand still.

Keeping a level head allows you to assess the incident better and make the right decision.

Know Your Sheep

Learning your sheep’s behavior will help you understand how they react to different situations. This includes when they are in pain or hurt and why the ewes, rams, and lambs that bite are doing so. For example, they might be parents trying to protect their lambs.

In addition, you may have done something that went against your sheep’s expectations, such as not communicating well or overstepping the boundaries.

Therefore, take a moment to reflect and put yourself in your sheep’s shoes, and you will know why they are biting.

It would be best to determine whether this behavior spreads across the entire flock or is confined to a few sheep. Isolated incidents (bites from one or two sheep) are easier to address. If you have many people working on your farm, consult them because they likely have better insight into the situation, especially if they spend a lot of time with the herd.

Discourage The Behavior

Doing nothing about your sheep’s biting, especially if it is happening regularly, can worsen the situation.

Therefore, avoid giving attention to sheep that bite and focus on others to show them that biting is not good.

In addition, train your lambs when they are young, showing them that you don’t condone intentional biting.

How To Handle a Sheep Bite

Sheep bites don’t typically cause significant injury or concern but can cause issues. Since sheep do not have upper incisors, your skin will hardly break or bleed if they bite you.

Therefore, you do not need to seek medical attention or clean and disinfect the area because the skin isn’t broken.

Nonetheless, a sheep bite can sometimes lead to skin damage or injury, particularly if the sheep gets too excited while feeding and your finger or hand gets caught in their mouth by accident.

In addition, you could get hurt if the sheep bites you with the molars and premolars at the back used for chewing, grinding, and crushing teeth.

Besides making you bleed and breaking your skin, bites from a sheep’s back molars and premolars can carry bacteria and diseases that can be transmitted to humans.

An example of these diseases is rabies. Therefore, you must clean the area if a sheep bite results in bleeding or broken skin.

Follow these steps to clean an area bitten by a sheep:

  • Use warm water and mild soap to clean the area and eliminate bacteria or germs.
  • Assess the bite, apply an antibacterial cream on the injured area, and put a band-aid on it to ensure the wound stays protected and clean.
  • Keep an eye on the area for infection signs or symptoms such as body aches, fever, odor, and discharge.


Pregnant women should seek medical attention immediately if they are bitten by sheep and their skin breaks.

People Also Ask Questions

1. Do Lambs Bite?

Lambs do not maliciously bite humans. However, they could accidentally bite your finger or hand while you feed them. However, don’t be alarmed when this happens because they mean no harm.

2. Do Sheep Bite Humans?

Sheep can bite humans, but it mostly happens accidentally or when they feel threatened or scared. For example, they could nibble on your hand when taking a treat or food from you.

In addition, they can bite if they feel uneasy with you being around their young ones or if they had a bad experience with someone in the past, causing them to be wary of humans.

3. What Does Sheep Biting Mean?

Sheep biting isn’t indicative of normal sheep behavior because these animals are not usually known for biting.

When a sheep bites, it mainly happens by accident when feeding, although some sheep can get aggressive when they feel threatened.

4. Do Sheep Bites Hurt?

Sheep bites do not hurt unless they use their back teeth. However, you will likely feel pain, bleed, or have broken skin if a sheep bites you with its molars and premolars.

Final Thoughts

Sheep are docile, easy to tame, and are among the world’s friendliest animals. Naturally, biting isn’t something they often do, but that does not mean it would never happen.

Sheep, especially rams, can be aggressive with this aggression leading to headbutts and even bites. Sheep bites can be directed to other animals and humans.

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