You’ve probably heard lore about animals that can predict the weather. Some of it (like, “if a cat washes her face over the ear, ‘tis a sign weather will be fine and clear”) may sound silly or hard to believe, but some is based on observations of animals that seem to sense more about our environment than we do. Here are just a few animals that have things to tell us about the weather.
The sound of crickets chirping is a sure sign of summer, but did you know that it can also tell you how hot it is? Crickets are cold-blooded so when the temperature in the air changes, the cricket’s body temperature changes with it. As the temperature rises, the cricket’s metabolism increases, allowing the process that triggers the chirp-creating muscle contractions to happen more quickly. Frequent chirping is a sure sign that the heat is rising!
To figure out the exact temperature in degrees Fahrenheit, count the number of chirps in 14 seconds and add 40. To get Celsius, count the number of chirps in 25 seconds, divide that by 3, and then add 4.
“If birds fly low, expect rain and a blow”
Do animals tell us when a storm is coming? Birds react to the drop in air pressure before a storm by flying low, and not flying at all an hour or so before the storm hits. Other animals behave strangely before a storm too–bats fly low and insects stay close to the ground, while wolves howl because the pressure change hurts their ears.
When Will Summer End?
Just ask the fish! Fishermen have noticed that in the fall, migrating fish come back early in years when there are early freezes, but they come out later than usual in years when the rivers freeze late.
Animals seem to have a sixth sense for danger that people might do well to observe. Before a hurricane, sharks that rarely leave their home waters will flee the path of the storm, responding to changes in barometric pressure, while seagulls and other birds instinctively fly inland.
Many animals are far more sensitive to vibrations in the ground than humans, and extreme changes in animal behavior can sometimes be an indicator that an earthquake is about to occur. After the 2005 tsunami in Sri Lanka, it was reported that very few animals were killed despite the massive loss of human life. Many of them were also acting strangely in the day before the tsunami hit. It seems likely that they sensed something coming and knew to flee to safety. A good rule is, if the animals are making a getaway, you probably should too.