Satellite images, instruments, applications, and forecasters – these are our modern sources of weather and climate information. But did you know that animals are also capable of telling us what kind of weather is coming our way?
Compared to humans, some animals have special capabilities and more developed senses of smell and hearing. Recently, a study called Biophony has been examining sounds in a habitat at a certain time to analyze animal behavior before storms.
According to Dr. Simon Robson from the School of Marine and Tropical Biology at the James Cook University-Australia, some animals have the ability to forecast the weather through their behavior. Get to know some of weather’s wonder animals!
According to farmers, cows have the ability to forecast the weather. When cows become restless and lie down in the field to claim dry spots, it means they sense bad weather.
Scientists at the Universities of Arizona and Northern Missouri conducted a study about the behavior of cows in connection to the weather. It showed that cows lie down when it is about to get cold, and stand for long hours when it is about to get hot.
When bad weather enters, ants, particularly the red and black, build up their mounds as extra protection for their holes. A higher mound may be a sign of incoming rains or thunderstorms.
Ants tend to scatter during good weather and travel in straight lines when rain is brewing. They close their holes before the rain, and open them in in fair or dry weather. Ants may even become more aggressive and destructive in a drought condition.
Bees and butterflies
When bees and butterflies disappear from the flowerbeds, heavy rains are expected in the next hours. Butterflies and bees are referred to as indicator species.
Their short lifespans are also observed to study the effects of climate change.
A lot of legends have come out about the ability of birds to predict storms or other natural disasters. Scientists believe birds can hear infrasound, a type of low frequency noise produced by storms, which humans are not capable of hearing.
Most birds also have special middle-ear receptors called the Vitali organ that can sense small changes in air pressure. Birds that fly high in the sky signify good weather, but if they fly low, a thunderstorm or bad weather is approaching.
Some believe that birds fly lower before the rain because they try to get closer to the insects, which also fly lower to the ground before the showers. But others say that flying closer to the ground protects birds from the air pressure of a storm at higher altitudes.
Other beliefs: if a rooster crows before sleeping, there is a chance of rain. Chickens that group together while scratching for food also indicate bad weather. When owls cry strangely in the night, good weather will probably be experienced the following day. Meanwhile, ducks behaving unusually could mean bad weather is approaching.
The frogs are believed to croak or sing longer and louder than the usual when bad weather is on the way. If the volume increases, rains or gusty winds may affect the area.
Spiders building their webs are believed to signify good weather conditions. If you see their webs scattered in the air, it could mean a dry spell. Spiders tend to be active and leave their webs before the rain pours. If there’s an incoming storm, spiders strengthen their webs.
Though there is no enough scientific proof, some of these animals may have helped in weather forecasting during the ancient times.
But in this day and age, it is always best to monitor the weather, not necessarily through animal behavior, but through meteorological agencies for more accurate and reliable information.
The Hot and Dry Season is the perfect time to spend sunny days outdoors with friends and family, which, sometimes, include a furry companion or two. With beloved pets in tow, swimming and playing under the sun becomes more enjoyable. Still, it’s important to remember that like humans, animals are also susceptible to heat-related illnesses.
The expected rise in temperature in the following days may pose challenges to your pet’s well-being. At this time, watch out for potential dangers due to hot weather.
Swimming with Pets
This season, what better way to cool down than swimming? Although it is no secret that our canine friends enjoy swimming, not all dogs have mastered the doggie paddle. Here are some tips to keep your canine friends safe and healthy when taking a dip.
• It is best not to leave pets unsupervised around a pool or on the beach. Small dog breeds may have trouble swimming, so for Lassie’s sake, buy a flotation device to keep your pet safe.
• Prevent your dog from drinking pool water as chlorine and other chemicals may cause him an upset stomach.
• After swimming, rinse your dog with fresh water to remove chlorine or salt to avoid skin irritation.
• Just like people, dogs can have sunburn too with thin-coated and light-colored canines at higher risk. To prevent this, waterproof sunscreen formulated for pets are also available.
Know the Warning Signs: Dehydration and Heat Stroke
Dogs enjoy sitting in the sun as much as cats enjoy lounging in its warmth. However, too much exposure to extreme heat may cause dehydration and heat stroke.
Your furry friend is at risk for heat stroke if he has any of the following characteristics:
• very young
• very old
• has a heart or respiratory disease
• not conditioned to prolonged exercise
Leaving your pet in the car during hot weather is a big no-no, not even with the windows slightly rolled down. This instance results to a rising body temperature of your pet, in which case heat stroke may occur.
• Excessive panting
• Rapid heartbeat
• Difficulty breathing
• Decreased urination
• Mild weakness
• Dry gums
• Excess lethargy
• Lack of coordination
• Refusal to eat
• Glazed eyes
• Bloody diarrhea
If any of the last four incidents happen, bring your pet to the vet immediately.
To avoid any of the above from happening, be sure to keep plenty of water available for your cat and dog at all times, both indoors and outside. Position them in a shady spot. Help them cool down with a few ice cubes in their water bowl, or even freeze some treats they can enjoy.
It’s all about the timing and street smarts
When the temperature is very high, sidewalks can very hot, capable of harming your pets’ paws and footpads. If you don’t like walking on that pavement with bare feet, limit your dog’s time on it, too.
Stay away from asphalt or rough pavement and only walk your dog in the early morning or late evening when outdoor surfaces are cool. Adjust the exercise routine you have with your canine in accordance with the temperature.
Time to have a trim
Just like any season of the year, grooming is important during warm weather. Feel free to have pet’s mane trimmed but never shave it. The layers of their coats protect them from sunburn and overheating. Your dogs and cats will also thank you for brushing their fur to get rid of matted or excess fur, which can contribute to overheating.
Visit the vet
Having your pets regularly checked is a must especially when parasites such as ticks, fleas and other insects are at their peak during the hot months. Your veterinarian will be able to give recommendations for safe flea and tick solutions.
Just like anyone in your family, your cats and dogs are susceptible to the dangers of hot weather. Protect them from too much sun and heat and you can still continue to have fun in the sun—together.