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How long can a chicken survive without its head? © Getty Images

How long can a chicken survive without its head?

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The answer will leave the squeamish running around like headless chickens.

Asked by: Kanika Ahuja, Winchester


In the 1940s in the US, a chicken called Mike lived for 18 months without a head. He had been almost completely beheaded with an axe, but crucially the jugular vein and most of the brainstem were left intact. This left just enough brain function for essential functions, like breathing, and Mike was fed with an eyedropper through the stump of his neck.

In Thailand, in March 2018, a similar case was reported, and the strong-stomached can even watch a video of the headless chicken online. But for more normal, complete beheadings, a chicken will die of blood loss in a matter of minutes.

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luis villazon
Luis VillazonQ&A expert

Luis trained as a zoologist, but now works as a science and technology educator. In his spare time he builds 3D-printed robots, in the hope that he will be spared when the revolution inevitably comes.


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