Can Animals Sense Earthquakes?

Sometime back, I had read, people in Japan (one of the most earthquake prone regions) had aquariums at home.

Rationale: Fish can sense earthquakes and observing abnormal fish movements can help predict an earthquake.

Lets figure out if this is true. According to National Geographic

  • In 373 B.C., historians recorded that animals, including rats, snakes and weasels, deserted the Greek city of Helice in droves just days before a quake devastated the place.
  • Catfish moving violently, chickens that stop laying eggs and bees leaving their hive in a panic have been reported.
  • In September 2003 a medical doctor in Japan made headlines with a study that indicated erratic behavior in dogs, such as excessive barking or biting, could be used to forecast quakes.
  • In 1975, Chinese officials ordered the evacuation of Haicheng, a city with one million people, just days before a 7.3-magnitude quake. It was later discovered, though, that a rare series of small tremors, called foreshocks, occurred before the large quake hit the city. And this gave the Chinese officials a solid prediction.

One theory is that wild and domestic creatures feel the Earth vibrate before humans do. Other ideas suggest they detect electrical changes in the air or gas released from the Earth.

However, lot of further research needs to be done on the topic to make more accurate predictions. There’s even a Web site, petquake.org, where folks can report whatever batshit antics their pets are up to so anybody who’s interested can watch for the next big one.


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