Just in case you haven't heard yet, a total solar eclipse is coming on Aug. 21, and people are already kind of losing their minds over it. While I can honestly say that I have never been personally victimized by a total solar eclipse, it's been suggested that human behaviors tend to run wild when the moon blocks the sun. But have you ever wondered how the solar eclipse affects animals?
Eclipse-chasers (where was that booth on career day?) and historic anecdotes paint a fantastical picture of wild beasts and where you might find them during total solar eclipses -- think birds spiraling down from the sky, whales desperately breaching in the ocean, and bees swarming in and out of their hives. While it's doubtful your dog will walk on its hind legs when the day is consumed by the darkness, veteran eclipse-chaser Peter den Hartog told National Geographic that tensions in the animal kingdom are likely to run high:
[Was it because of] the light intensity, or the flies and mosquitoes that came out … I'm not sure, but I've definitely experienced more activity during eclipses.
Although wild animals will most likely mistake solar eclipses for twilight, Mother Nature Network science editor Russell McLendon said family pets are less likely to react. However, it really depends on the animal.
Birds might hover in their cages out of fear or confusion.
If you are the proud owner of a cute little birdie that cheerfully chirps and stays alert during the day, don't be surprised if the faux nightfall makes him or her cower a bit.
The earliest record of unusual animal behavior during a solar eclipse was documented in 1544, when birds supposedly stopped singing out of nowhere.
So, while it'll definitely be dark in your house, you might just enjoy a little peace and quiet, too.
Dogs, on the other hand, might be more vocal.
As much as I love dogs, the benefit to having a cat is they don't bark.
If you live in an area that has an optimal view of the sky, eclipse-observers are likely to camp out and crowd around. For the sake of your ears, keep the shades drawn to ensure your dog doesn't get overly excited by lurking strangers.
Eclipse blindness could also affect your pets, so take necessary precautions.
While some may be skeptical on whether or not a solar eclipse could actually influence human behavior, the physical effects are a sure thing.
Unless precautions are taken, like wearing proper eye protection, staring directly into the sun can literally burn your or your pet's eyes. Either keep them out of the room or close the blinds entirely.
If you work on or own a farm, keep in mind that grazers are likely to go back into the barn during a solar eclipse.
It's probably super confusing to cows and horses when daytime is suddenly nighttime. Unlike humans, who comprehend this is just the solar system doing its thing, animals are offset by the sudden change.
Field grazers like cows and horses probably won't act out irrationally, but they will turn around and go back into the barn, expecting nighttime rituals to commence.
Believe it or not, spiders also do some crazy stuff during a total solar eclipse, too.
I know spiders generally aren't pets, but this is going to blow your mind. It was recorded that during the 1994 solar eclipse in Mexico, observers found that colonial orb-weaving spiders took down their webs within one minute of totality.
First of all, that's fast even for a spider, and second of all, that's creepy AF.
If you weren't a believer before, you're probably one now, right?
Disruption of the cosmos could potentially do a number on your pets, which is why ecologist Rebecca Johnson at the California Academy of Sciences is encouraging pet owners and observers to document animal behavior on their smartphones via the iNaturalist app while watching the solar eclipse.
Biologists and astronomers will be collecting data from spectator uploads to set the record straight on what happens to animals when there is a solar eclipse.
So if you see something, post something!