Geese Are The Best Guard Animals In History

By Morris M. on Tuesday, February 25, 2014
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“Shall I, like Curtius, desperate in my zeal, / O’er head and ears plunge for the common weal? / Or rob Rome’s ancient geese of all their glories, / And cackling save the monarchies of Tories?” —Alexander Pope, The Dunciad

In A Nutshell

In Ancient Greek myth, the entrance to the underworld was guarded by Cerberus: the meanest, ugliest, most ornery, three-headed dog that underworld money could buy. But it turns out that Hades, the ruler of the land, missed a trick. From the two birds that saved Ancient Rome to their modern equivalent guarding Brazilian prisons, history has shown that even Hercules would likely have been flummoxed by a simple guard goose.

The Whole Bushel

Remember that scene in Lethal Weapon 3 where Mel Gibson manages to bust up some bad guys after befriending their guard dog? Well, had those cocky gun-runners gone with a guard goose, things may well have turned out differently. According to National Geographic, geese are literally the best guard animals in existence.

For one thing, their eyesight is incredible. Not just when measured against dogs, but measured against humans too. Thanks to an extra light sensor in their eyes, geese can see further and in clearer detail than any of us could ever hope to. They’re also super-territorial and—unlike dogs—can’t be paid off with a packet of biscuits you happen to be carrying. Try and distract a goose and it just honks louder, alerting the nameless goons next door to their incoming comeuppance.

So, why do we never hear about these wonder guards? Well, we do. In 390 B.C., two geese alerted Rome to an impending Gaul attack, potentially saving the city from destruction. For generations after, the event was commemorated by having a pampered goose watch the city’s treacherous guard dogs get crucified. In modern times, too, these super-birds have their uses: Chinese cops in the Xinjiang province use them to guard police stations, while at least one Brazilian prison has them patrol the grounds in case of a mass breakout.

In fact, in just about every head-to-head contest geese put our canine friends to shame. Need to stop those pesky kids next door from messing up your lawn? It’s time you bought a goose.

Show Me The Proof

She-Wolf: The Story of a Roman Icon, by Cristina Mazzoni
Huffington Post: Brazil Prison Uses Geese As Alarm System
National Geographic: Honk If You Think Geese Are Good Guard Dogs