A flock of tartan patterned sheep have fooled dozens of American tourists who visit the Scottish farm.
Owners Andrew and Maxine Scott dub the sheep ‘a rare breed’ – and even post a sign outside their pen, stating the sheep, who are ‘native only to the farm’, are born normally but are raised on a healthy diet of Irn Bru, shortbread and Scottish tablet causes their wool to turn tartan.
Yet their strange look causes the tourists to flock to them in the picturesque Perthshire hills, some seven miles outside of the Scottish town of Comrie – as many are caught out by the practical joke.
Andrew, who owns Auchingarrich Wildlife Centre said: “The sheep have been sprayed in a tartan pattern for the last 20 years or so, and when we took over the farm 11 years ago, we just kept the tradition going.
“Flocks of sheep are marked on farms to show who they belong to and this is our own twist on it.
“We get asked about it all the time, whether they’re real – I think it’s American tourists who are fooled most by the sheep but it’s mostly kids who are having a prank played on them by their parents.”
The colouring lasts anything from a few days to a few weeks, depending on the length of the sheep’s fur and the weather.
As a result, there’s a constant rotation in the sheep being sprayed, in addition to different patterns of tartan.
Andrew added: “It lasts the longest during the spring, when there’s less rain and their fur is shorter.
“Now, especially with the weather we’ve been having, the colouring doesn’t last that long at all.
“It’s nothing to do with any special occasions – it’s just when we run out of certain colours of spray!”
For those conscious about the welfare of the animals, Andrew is quick to dispel any concerns about the process, which is perfectly safe for the bovines, saying: “No harm comes to the sheep at all, if anything it protects them from the rain!
“We have no plans on changing their style any time soon, we’ve got to keep them looking sharp for visitors.”
It’s not just sheep which can be found at the wildlife centre, with a whole host of other animals and activities to keep visitors entertained – however, it is up on the hills looking down on the centre where the main attraction will be found.
Andrew added: “We have alpacas, llamas and highland cattle but we don’t want to do anything similar to them.
“We want to keep the sheep unique.”