When it Comes to Natural Disasters, Can Animals Sense It?



We have all heard the “all beings have five senses only” rule. What if animals had a sixth sense though? The senses of smell, touch, taste, hearing, and sight are well-known, but most people haven’t yet met the sixth sense, the smell of natural disasters. 

Strange behavior from peoples’ pets have been reported, such as dogs refusing to go outside, and cats hiding under the bed. These strange behaviors all have one thing in common; they were all right before natural disasters.

Groups of animals had escaped a tsunami which took out over 230,000 people from over a dozen countries worldwide in 2004. People around the world heard about this incident, and took notice of the animals’ freakish behavior shortly. People didn’t think much of it, viewing it just as a coincidence. 

According to the article “Can Animals Sense Natural Disasters?” published in Thoughtco.com, later in 2012, researchers studying goat behavior on Mount Etna in Sicily realized that the goats seemed to get randomly nervous, and later fled the mountain. Only hours later, a volcanic eruption occured. The researchers believed that the goats may have been able to detect early warning signs of the natural disaster. Once again, people were questioning this “coincidence”. There was still no proof of a sixth sense, though.

Pet owners started reporting unusual behavior from their pets. Some people stated that their dogs were whining in the corner for no reason at all, and other people said that their cats were climbing walls and hiding. Owners of pets were definitely suspicious of these strange behaviors coming from their own pets, and shocked after a disaster hit, realizing their pets had known all along. 

Rumors started to spread around stories of animals like flamingos who abandoned their nesting areas and travelled to safe ground together, which is obviously very unlike them. Elephants ran for higher ground before a tragedy hit. As it seems to be, pets aren’t the only ones who can sense these catastrophes! Records discovered from all the way back to 373 BC showed that huge groups of rats, snakes, and other rodents mysteriously fled the Greek city of Helice just days before a massive earthquake happened to come about.

A possibility that also lies is that dogs may be able to smell changes in the air. According to an article published to Treehugger.com by the name of “Do Animals Have a Sixth Sense About Natural Disasters?”, “A 2011 study suggested that because a dog’s olfactory senses are 10,000 to 100,000 times stronger than a human’s, they may be able to smell changes in the air before natural disasters”. It is definitely likely that this may be a cause of dogs’ behavior before natural disasters.

As we now understand, pets have a “sixth sense” when it comes to natural disasters. But there’s still one question; is it a literal sixth sense? According to the article “Do Animals Have a Sixth Sense About Natural Disasters?” by Mary DiLonardo, published to       treehugger.com, scientists disagree with the fact that animals have an actual sixth sense, but instead suppose a change in the air quality before a natural disaster hits. Before one of these disasters hits, the condition of the air changes a bit, whether it’s a drop in temperature, or the air becomes more humid. The reason animals can sense this slight change is because they are made with keen senses which help them escape predator attacks and locate prey. Some of the scientists believe that these senses could also pick up early warning signs of natural disasters. When it comes to reports of unusual pet behavior before natural disasters, researchers call upon “the psychological focusing effect”. This is where people recall odd behavior from their pets only after a catastrophe has befallen.They say if the event had never taken place, they wouldn’t have ever remembered that strange behavior from their furry friends.

Although animals may not have an actual sixth sense about these natural disasters, the fact they can even sense the occurrence of one is astonishing.