Saturday, March 27, 2010

Mike the Headless Chicken

Mike the Headless Chicken (April 1945 – March 1947), also known as Miracle Mike,[1] was a Wyandotte rooster that lived for 18 months after its head had been mostly cut off. Thought by many to be a hoax, the bird was taken by its owner to the University of Utah in Salt Lake City to establish its authenticity.[1][2]

On September 10, 1945, farmer Lloyd Olsen of Fruita, Colorado, had his mother-in-law around for supper and was sent out to the yard by his wife to bring back a chicken. Olsen chose a five-and-a-half month old cockerel named Mike, but failed to completely decapitate the bird. The axe missed the jugular vein, leaving one ear and most of the brain stem intact.[3][4]

Despite Olsen's botched handiwork, Mike was still able to balance on a perch and walk clumsily; it even attempted to preen and crow, although it could do neither. After the bird did not die, a surprised Mr. Olsen decided to continue to care permanently for Mike, feeding it a mixture of milk and water via an eyedropper; it was also fed small grains of corn. Mike occasionally choked on its own mucus, which the Olsen family would clear using a syringe.[citation needed]

When used to its new and unusual center of mass, Mike could easily get itself to the highest perches without falling. Its crowing, though, was less impressive and consisted of a gurgling sound made in its throat, leaving it unable to crow at dawn. Mike also spent its time preening and attempting to peck for food with its neck.[3]

Being semi-headless did not keep Mike from putting on weight; at the time of its partial beheading it weighed two and a half pounds, but at the time of its death this had increased to nearly eight pounds.[citation needed]