Monday, June 8, 2009

Animals Can Warn of Danger

By Ruthie Bently

Have you ever wondered how your dog or cat knew there was a storm coming? How animals sensed the approach of the Indonesian Tsunami? Or how pets in California know when there is an earthquake coming? Living in Minnesota, I am very glad that I live with animals. You see, Minnesota is on the northeast corner of what is known as “Tornado Alley,” and when we get severe weather here everyone knows about it. Our house is in a valley upon a slight rise in the land; there is a meadow to the east of the house and a river just beyond that. The river seems to attract a certain amount of lightning and we get some spectacular thunderstorms here. I am happy to say that I can usually tell if they are going to be bad or not depending on how the animals on the property behave.

I can feel changes in the weather coming when it is turning cold and damp and have read that some people can tell when it is about to thunder because they feel strange, but I wondered how my animals knew there were changes coming. When there is a bad storm coming the animals all go to ground. The wild birds and animals retreat to their hiding places and get very still and quiet. The chickens that don’t usually go into the hen house until around dusk, go in several hours early and won’t come back out. Skye and the cats will go to the open door, give a sniff and turn around and retreat back into the house.

I even remember seeing a story on the local news after the tsunami in Indonesia several years ago, that mentioned a little girl who was saved by an elephant, as he took her to higher ground with him. So how do they do it? How do animals know the weather is changing, that California is in for another trembler or that an earthquake on the ocean bottom created a tsunami? I was discussing it with a friend of mine one day and he said that our animals actually sense the changes in atmospheric pressure. Because they can also sense changes in the temperature and humidity levels they are aware that a storm is coming and go take cover. I was reading about animals and weather recently and learned that they can smell changes in the ozone levels and as ozone levels change during storms, they would be even more alert to the bad weather coming.

According to scientists, because animals have such physiologically highly developed senses they are able to feel changes in magnetic fields, electrostatic and chemical changes as well as touch, vibrations and sounds that may be too low for our human range of hearing. Because a dog’s sense of smell is between 10,000 to 100,000 times better than ours, it is possible for them to smell the chemical changes in the air before an earthquake. However, there are several opinions about how animals tell that an earthquake is coming. As most of the evidence is anecdotal and hard to duplicate in a laboratory, the scientific results are inconclusive, so this will probably be an ongoing project.

However you look at it, our pets are more connected to our world and more aware of changes than we are. It makes sense to me; they are connected to the earth through their feet at the very least. I am very glad that I have such a well functioning animal early warning system here where I live.

Read more articles by Ruthie Bently

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