Friday, January 13, 2012

What Do Animals Know? by Pam Todd

As long as I can remember, I have been fascinated by weather lore as it relates to animals.  My mother-in-law and I used to talk a lot about the weather lore she had heard all her life.  Of course, there were the woolly worms and their color and what that meant for the upcoming winter, how high off the ground the bee and spider nests were built, and more.  But, I was sure there were even more examples, and so I googled animals and the weather.

At, I learned that scientists agree with some of the observations that contribute to weather lore.  This site talks about how  pigs and squirrels gather trash to make a kind of nesting place to help protect themselves from the cold, and that  birds eat a lot and go to roost earlier than usual when storms are coming.  Two I had not heard were “When cats lick themselves, fair weather.”  The explanation for this was that dry warm conditions cause static electricity to build up in the cat’s fur.  When touched, a small electric shock occurs, and the cat (nor its petter) likes this!  So, the cat licks itself to help the static electricity dissipate.  Another was that the Fahrenheit temperature can be accurately determined by counting the chirps of a cricket for 14 seconds and then adding 40 to that number.  This website credits for some of its information.

Many of us have seen our dogs and cats react to upcoming changes in the weather.  They may tremble, become agitated, hide, cower, or want to be as close to us as they can.  At, I learned that changes in atmospheric pressure and the sensitivity of animals to changes in air pressure are responsible for their instinctively seeking safety before storms.  The ability to hear at a broader range than humans is also involved.  You may enjoy reading more information here with references to other articles involving weather and animals.

What weather lore have you heard?  What have you observed your animals doing? Feel free to share it with us in your comments!  I’m wondering right now whether with the unseasonably warm temperatures we have had recently (in Indiana) what the animals and their behaviors are saying about our winter.  How about you?

This post was written by Pam Todd, a member of the Crafting for Animals Guild on Artfire, a lover of animals and all things related to nature, a supporter of the Elephant Sanctuary in Hohenwald, Tennessee, and the owner of, where she hand crochets items for people, pets, and homes.

1 comment:

Creative Critters said...

I've always been interested in animal and insect behavior relating to the weather myself. My mother has a German Shepherd that reacts to dust storms (in AZ) hours before they come. My cat becomes much more clingy and nervous when thunderstorms are on their way. I always watch the wild animals in the Fall to get an idea of how bad the winter was going to be. These certainly aren't "dumb animals"! They know long before we do what to expect from Mother Nature and how to prepare for it!
-Michelle of CreativeCritters