Can Animals Predict the Weather?

Although many individuals rely on meteorology to understand the weather, in the past humans looked to animals for understanding the world around them.

Animal behavior has been observed in the past to predict rain, storms, snow, and more. Through observation of animal behavior, we can look to animals for signs that the weather may be changing. Scientists explain that because animals are more acutely in touch with nature and its changing states, this could explain their ability to predict the weather outlook. Though some animals can sense changes in weather long before we can, not every animal can predict the weather.


Groundhogs: Predicting Spring

1. Groundhogs: Predicting Spring

One of the most common animals with a history of representing weather predictions is the groundhog. This fluffy little rodent has been part of a legend that was brought over to the United States from Germany. The story goes that on Candlemas Day a groundhog can predict an early Spring if he doesn't see his shadow.

There is no real truth or science to the story, however. Groundhogs actually have a terrible track record for predicting an early Spring. So, if you are counting on a weather prediction from an animal, you might want to look to a different animal other than the groundhog.

Frogs: Rain on the Way?

2. Frogs: Rain on the Way?

Water is important to frogs. They absorb water through their skin to stay hydrated and it is also a very important factor in their reproduction cycle.

Although a little croaking is normal among frogs, pay attention and grab an umbrella if a whole chorus of croaking begins. Get indoors quick because rain is on the way. Scientists explain that because frogs lay eggs in bodies of freshwater, they are more likely to be successful at reproduction following a good rain. So, all that croaking is a mate-summoning song that tends to occur right before a rain shower.

Birds: Storm Approaching?

3. Birds: Storm Approaching?

Do birds evacuate before a storm? Many people believe that birds fly low when a storm is approaching and high in good weather.

Storms do change the pressure in the air, so some scientists theorize that storm system pressure is painful to birds making them choose to fly low to the land. Another theory is that birds can hear low, infrasound sounds coming from an approaching storm system days before a storm comes. This ability to sense infrasound helps birds migrate to safe locations. This ability to sense a change in weather is similar to the radar system that humans use in meteorology.

Snakes: Sensing Earthquakes

4. Snakes: Sensing Earthquakes

Many Hollywood films depict critters fleeing before an earthquake begins. Can snakes and other animals sense and predict earthquakes?

Snake enthusiasts have documented movement patterns of snakes as they relate to earthquakes. Although scientific evidence is hard to come by, scientists do acknowledge that serpents and other animals can sense earthquakes a few moments before people do because they are better able to feel the initial wave.

The area that remains uncertain, however, is whether animals can detect earthquake days in advance. Are animals able to feel movements in the ground or abnormalities in the electrical or magnetic fields?

Sheep: Huddles for Bad Weather

5. Sheep: Huddles for Bad Weather

Do sheep huddle together when they sense bad weather?

Sheep can be found spread out when grazing on farms, but occasionally they seem to draw into tight huddles. This could be for safety, but farmers have sworn by for centuries that sheep have a sixth sense that alerts them to approaching rain storms or snow storms. They gather in a tight group for protection and warmth.

Although farmers swear by this observation, there has been little research done to prove that there is truth behind this theory. Either way, it makes sense that they would come together for an approaching storm.

Cows: Lay Down for Rain

6. Cows: Lay Down for Rain

Do cows lay down in the fields when rain is on the way? This is another good example of an old wives tale. For years, people have had this notion that cows will only lay down in fields when they sense rain coming.

Believers have devised up several different explanations for why cows would hit the ground in expectation of a storm and many of them appear believable. The simplest theory is that cows can sense incoming moisture in the air moisture and will plop down to maintain a patch of dry grass. Although many theories sound believable, there is no science to back them up. Cows lay down for many reasons, not just for incoming rain.