How You Can Expect Animals to React to Monday’s Total Solar Eclipse
Not surprisingly, animals, and wildlife in particular, are expected to be particularly confused by the rare event.
For people and animals alike, Monday’s total solar eclipse is bound to be one for the ages.
As people make their way to viewing parties across the country, experts are encouraging spectators to keep their eyes (safely) peeled for a number of unique occurrences. In addition to potentially-blinding lights, temperatures are expected to drop as much as 5-15 degrees, and some may even experience “eclipse wind” during the 2-minute-and-40-second solar phenomenon.
Not surprisingly, animals, and wildlife in particular, are expected to be particularly confused by the rare event. A study of a solar eclipse in 1999 found that birds, cattle, bees and horses felt it about approximately 30 minutes before it occurred. An abstract of the results laid out how the animals’ behavior changed: “Laying hens crowded together and became very quiet and restless. Gulls stopped flying and were quiet and restless. Sparrows and crows were careful and afraid and they did not fly or sing. They crowded together in the trees and they were very nervous and afraid. All horses and cattle become very quiet, they did not move and they sniffed the air. They were very restless, shaking their tails and heads. A slight buzzing sound come from the beehives.”
Not much is known about what animals experience during this time, which is why, as USA Today reports, zoos and aquariums in or near the path of totality in cities such as Nashville, Columbia and Omaha, Neb., plan to study animal behavior during this eclipse.
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The Tennessee Aquarium will reportedly study its lemurs, which have been known to behave particularly "oddly" during eclipses, while Nashville Zoo will observe how their animals will react to a false dusk, night and dawn that will take place in the middle of the day. Riverbanks Zoo in Columbia, S.C., plans to study the behavior of animals from baboons and elephants to gorillas and sea lions.
Douglas Bielenberg, a Clemson University plant physiologist, told USA Today that some plants might even be impacted by the eclipse, and encourages people to keep an eye on their gardens on August 21. “People who have gardens can look for the leaves on the plants to droop, or get in their night positions,” he said. “This will be a great opportunity for people to make and record observations."
Luckily, domestic pets like dogs and cats should be less affected by the eclipse than wildlife, but to be safe, plan to keep them indoors with their blinds closed. Because they rarely look at the sky, eclipse glasses won’t be necessary for your four-legged friends.
"Totality only lasts a few minutes at most, and an eclipse itself is silent, causing none of the noise that typically scares pets during storms and fireworks," Mother Nature Network’s science editor Russell McLendon told USA Today.