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Miracle Mike: The Ηeadless Chicken That Lived For 18 Months Without A Head

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It’s a widely-known fact that a chicken can live for several minutes without a head.

The domesticated birds can survive because of their brain position, which is in a small space of the skull at a 45-degree angle. The cerebellum and the brain stem, which are responsible for most vital functions, are in the chicken’s neck, so when the head is severed, the body can go on for a short time. Most of the unlucky birds die moments after they lose their head, running around frantically before giving out. There is, however, one case of a chicken that lived for a year and a half without its head.
Mike the Headless Chicken, also known as Miracle Mike, was a five-month-old male, who lived a happy life on a farm in Fruita, Colorado. On September 10, 1945, Lloyd Olsen — the owner of the farm — decided it was time for Mike to become a part of someone’s dinner, so he beheaded the animal.

The cockerel refused to die, though, and after a short run around, he settled down as if nothing had happened. Mike even (unsuccessfully) tried to peck for food, so the farmer decided to let the chicken be. The very next morning he found Mike sleeping, still alive, so Olsen decided to take care of the freaky miracle. He began feeding Mike with water, milk, and small pieces of corn. The farmer would deposit food directly into chicken’s throat, using a small eyedropper.
The reason Mike managed to survive so long is because the hatchet did not sever his jugular vein, he lost his sight and a small piece of brain not responsible for the vital functions. 

He did however lose some coordination in his body which is understandable, considering he didn't have a head. The local newspaper was soon onto this and Lloyd would receive an offer to take Mike on tour with a travelling sideshow across the United States. It's a little known fact that many birds can tuck their heads completely under their wings and appear to be headless, this is sometimes exploited by magicians to create seemingly gory effects. 

However, no such trickery was needed for Mike and his fame grew with each city that he visited. 

People were queuing up for a glimpse of this curiosity and at the height of his fame, Mike was earning his owner around $4500 per month. Mike was frequently in the news including prestigious publications such as Time and Life magazines. Mike was on tour for 18 months until one trip to Phoenix, Arizona would be the end of his chicken run. 

While spending the night in a Phoenix motel, Mike choked on a kernel of corn. Lloyd did not have the necessary equipment to save him so he died and the tour was never finished. 

Olsen did not want to admit Mike was no longer with us so he told the media that he had sold him. Mike remains famous to this day and the residents in Fruita have erected a statue in his honour. There is also an annual headless chicken festival where people remember Mike's amazing will to live. 

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