Have you ever felt some eyes watching you? As I sat at my computer preparing to write this column I could feel a set of eyes staring me down. As I turned to look on my bed was Abby—staring at me like I was her next rawhide. Animals have a keen sense, and in many folklore sayings have revolved around the world of animals.
Abby, like most dogs know when you are leaving for work, or going on vacation, and if you say the word walk—they get all excited. When she hears a bag of chips rustling she comes a running or the smell of cheese she is jumping on you. Animals seem to just know—without having the education to tell them.
In weather animals also tend to have a keen sense that even the best meteorologist tend to lack intuition and have strange adaptations to weather and climate.
The camel is one of those animals who can adapt to the desert, unlike us humans they have translucent eyelids which mean they can close their eyes and still walk—for us we would bump into things. Camels also have two set of eyelashes that help keep the sun and sand out of their eyes. Ironically, they can close their nostrils to keep the sand out.
People have often joked about having themselves frozen and then thawed and brought back to life—unfortunately we are not cavemen so I am not sure this concept will work, however for some species of frogs that live in the subfreezing temperatures have actually been frozen, without a heartbeat—technically dead! These frogs have adapted so well to this climate that when the temperature climbs the frogs will thaw and leap back into the game of life.
How often do you see a flamingo or a pelican in your backyard? Probably not very often if at all, but it does happen. Sometimes the coastal birds catch a ride on the eye of a hurricane and ride the storm for a few hundred miles before being deposited far from their habitat. So if you see a pelican or flamingo in your backyard they obviously have been imported via a hurricane.
As a child I was always amazed by the ant hills and mounds they made and felt bad for them when they were washed away in the rain or stepped on by the human foot. Prior to rain these ants close up the hole leading inside the ant colony. The ants work together to secure them from the rain that falls on them and protect their home.
If you ask my mom what is one thing she is terrified of—her response would be a spider! In the movie, Charlotte’s Web, Charlotte carries her nest egg until she dies—soon the egg hatches and the spiders fly away. Some spiders use the wind to carry them away—they use a ballooning technique of filaments to carry them. So, in some sense spiders can fly!
Ever been kept up by the chirping of a cricket? Did you know that a cricket’s chirp can tell you the temperature? It can. As the temperature rises, so does the crickets’ metabolism, which increases the how often it chirps. In order to determine the temperature you need to count the number of chirps a cricket makes in fifteen seconds, and then add 40 to the number. This will give you the temperature!
The ability to use our sixth sense is often something we ignore or just put it in the back of our minds—but when the 2004 tsunami occurred and killed hundreds of thousands of people, there were no reports of animal causalities! They used a sense that we may lack.
Animals are unique in the way they react to weather. Pigs will build nest prior to a storm, birds will not fly in stormy weather, and in fair weather they fly higher. A cow that has it tail to the east is a folklore belief that rain is on the way. Monkeys tend to know when to pick fruit from trees on warm sunny days, rather than cloudy ones. Animals tend to adjust to weather patterns more so than we do.
Next time your pet is acting a little oddly, prepare yourself, because maybe they have a intuition that we do not have and something is going to happen!