Owning goats is one of the most rewarding experiences for farmers as these animals are highly pleasant, friendly, and goofy pets.
While these farm animals are generally friendly, it’s important to remember they are still wild animals and may be prone to various instincts, sometimes resulting in dominant behaviors.
Of the many dominant behaviors goats can display, biting may be the most concerning of the bunch.
Farmers should ensure they provide their goats with plenty of attention, nutrition, and enrichment to reduce the risk of aggression in goats.
Goats do bite, though it’s usually due to either play or an accidental bite while feeding. In some cases, goats may bite back when threatened or stressed. If bitten, clean and dress the bite and consider going to the doctor if you fear disease or the injury won’t stop bleeding.
Let’s look ahead about goat bites, what to do, and how to avoid them.
What Would Cause a Goat to Bite?
Goat herds are generally mild-mannered animals and enjoy the company of people as well as other goats, and biting as a form of pure aggression is rare in these animals.
You just don’t see this behavior of goats very often.
Although goats typically do not bite aggressively, they often use gentle or playful biting as a form of communication between each other and humans.
A companion goat engaging in play will sometimes bite other goats to receive attention or as a way to give another goat a warning sign something they are doing is irritating them and that they should stop.
Although goats have been raised around humans rarely bite as a form of pure aggression, farmers should be aware of certain circumstances which may influence a goat to bite.
Goats experiencing neglect or abuse may become territorial or fearful if their needs are not met, resulting in aggressive behavior such as headbutting, kicking, and biting.
Related: Why goats headbutt and how to stop it
Biting may also be seen in goats experiencing acute pain such as a broken bone, laceration, or other serious injuries.
Farmers dealing with injured goats should always approach with caution or enlist the help of a veterinary professional to avoid injuring themselves or the goat.
Are Goat Bites Dangerous?
Due to their lack of upper incisors, most goat bites rarely cause any serious injuries to humans when they occur.
Unlike the more serious direct contact bite of a cat or dog, goat bites generally do not break the skin or cause any bleeding, so no cleaning or medical treatment is needed in these cases.
In rare instances, goats have been known to do some damage to hands and fingers with the back teeth, also known as the premolars and molars.
These teeth are used for crushing and grinding food and often have a powerful chewing force.
Because of this, the majority of these types of bites tend to occur at feeding time when overzealous goats become too excited about eating and may mistake fingers for food.
In addition to causing physical harm, a goat’s bite may carry various zoonotic diseases that may be passed to humans.
While most of these diseases are transmitted by contact with goat milk, feces, or skin, goats are susceptible to rabies, which may be spread through the saliva of an infected goat if it enters a human’s bloodstream.
What To Do After A Bad Goat Bite
While most goat bites do not cause any harm to humans, occasionally, a goat bite may draw blood which will require medical intervention.
Animal control isn’t required as animal bite injuries from goats are rarely dangerous.
After being bitten by any animal, the first thing to do is always wash the wound thoroughly with mild soap and warm water.
This will remove bacteria from infected animals and their mucous membranes and help you stay safe.
There are various diseases of animal origin to watch for, but these are taken care of with simple cleaning steps.
After thoroughly washing the bite wound, evaluate the bite to determine the severity of the wound.
Most wounds only require the application of a topical antibiotic cream and a traditional bandaid to keep the wound clean, but there have been cases where the person bitten requires stitches.
Patients recovering from a bite from their domestic animals should continue to monitor the bite wound for signs of infection, including non-healing injuries, purulent discharge, a foul odor, or systemic symptoms of illness including fever, lethargy, body aches, and more.
Warning! If the goat is a rabid animal and shows signs of severe illness, check yourself by a doctor immediately, especially for pregnant women.
How to Avoid Goat Bites
While goats rarely bite due to aggression, reinforcing appropriate behavior methods from a young age is the best way to avoid future goat bites.
This includes avoiding reinforcing dominant behaviors by walking away from the situation and avoiding using hands or fingers as toes during playtime.
Also, avoid causing any annoyance to animals because any animal will fight back a little when pressed enough.
Additionally, goat owners should avoid any potential animal feed-related bite injuries by ensuring goats receive plenty of resources when it comes to food.
This includes feeding multiple goats in separate areas, giving each goat its own bowl or feeding area, and feeding a nutritious, balanced diet.
It’s important to note that negative reinforcement such as yelling or hitting goats should be avoided as this can worsen these behaviors.
What Kind of Teeth Do Goats Have?
Goats have a unique dental make up consisting of a total of 32 teeth that develop as two separate sets over time.
Once goats start losing their baby teeth at approximately one year, the second set of permanent teeth begins to develop and are typically fully developed by the time the goat is 4 years old.
Although goats are indeed capable of biting humans, their teeth are unique in how they completely lack any upper incisors and canines, or front teeth as they’re more commonly known.
While they have upper premolars and molars and a row of incisors and canines on the bottom jaw, a hard dental palate replaces the top front teeth that would normally be found there on most other mammals.
This dental palate is an easy way for goats to grasp and gather food such as grass, hay, and grain but makes a goat bite fairly harmless.