Do Fainting Goats Faint?
Written by Administrator-GL   
Wednesday, 12 May 2004

Do Fainting goats really Faint?

Myotonic Goats and the mystery behind them.

Why Fainting Goats Do What They Do


D. Phillip Sponenberg, DVM, PhD


Fainting goats have a muscle condition, which is called myotonia congenita. This is a condition which occurs in many species, including humans. Myotonic animals have a change in some of the channels that occur in the outer membranes of skeletal muscle cells. These channels provide for the transfer of certain ions that control muscle contraction and relaxation. The result of this is that when muscles fire rapidly in a myotonic animal they cannot quickly relax, resulting in a prolonged contraction.

Myotonia has been extensively studied in humans, and somewhat less extensively in other species. It is an interesting condition, and is painless. The only consistent changes are the lack of muscle relaxation following contraction, and an increase in muscle mass over animals that lack the condition.

The myotonic condition is strictly muscular, and does not involve the nerves or the brain. The animals do not truly "faint" in any sense of the word, as they never lose consciousness because of the condition. They remain fully conscious.

Myotonia, and its side effects, varies in degree from individual to individual. Some myotonic animals rarely exhibit the stiffness usually associated with it. Other animals are consistently myotonic, and exhibit some signs of the condition even when walking on level ground. In most animals it is only exhibited when they are startled, or when they step over a barrier.

Breeders find myotonic animals easy to manage because they do not climb well, nor do they jump well. Many breeders also desire the heavy muscling. The painless character of the condition allows these animals to be used very humanely as both pets and production animals.

A good summary of myotonia includes:

1. It is painless

2. It does not cause the animals to truly faint

3. It is responsible for heavy muscling

4. It varies in its degree from marked to minimal
Last Updated ( Saturday, 08 December 2007 )