Rekindle Your Wild Joy and Deep Belonging to the Earth

Animals Predicting Earthquakes March 30, 2011

Yomiuri Shimbun reported that after the recent earthquake in Japan, this 12-year-old Shih Tzu, “Babu,” saved the life of her beloved 83-year-old Tami Akanuma by forcefully and steadily leading her to the higher ground – before the first wave of tsunami came and swallowed their house completely.

It’s always a good idea to heed other animals on matters like this.

Similar examples abound: pet dogs and cats acting nervous like they do before big storms, bees leaving their hives, catfish violently flailing around, chickens ceasing to lay. Days before an earthquake devastated the Greek city of Helice in 373 B.C., animals including rats, snakes and weasels all were seen deserting the place.

I wonder what sort of senses they’re using that alert them to seismic activity. Could they be feeling changes in the earth’s electromagnetic field, electrical changes in the air? Maybe that has a scent! Or can they feel (or even hear) the change in vibratory frequency caused by minute early shifts deep in the soil itself?

Such evidence can easily be dismissed as anecdotal, but it seems to me that heeding what we observe in the more-than-human world is the basis of not only good science, but often of survival. Such a practice is how we’ve learned about a great number of the plants that formed the basis of some of our strongest modern pharmaceutical medicine, for example.

In documented instances where other animals’ warnings about earthquakes were accurately read and then acted upon, their ‘advice’ has proved quite beneficial. For example, according to National Geographic (Nov. 2003), “in 1975, Chinese officials ordered the evacuation of Haicheng, a city with one million people, just days before a 7.3-magnitude quake. Only a small portion of the population was hurt or killed. If the city had not been evacuated, it is estimated that the number of fatalities and injuries could have exceeded 150,000.”

I take comfort in the fact that we can still rely on these elder species for excellent advice. All we have to do is pay a lot more ongoing, respectful attention.



(Thanks to Tomoko Parry for sharing Ms. Akanuma’s story.)


4 Responses to “Animals Predicting Earthquakes”

  1. Tina Fields Says:

    Tomoko Parry later added, “Babu looked back several times and urged Tami with his gaze to follow him in the direction to which he’s never traveled before. Will my doggies/kitty do the same for me…? Rather, the question is, will I recognize what they’re trying to tell me…? Sure hope so.”

  2. Erin Says:

    What was the animal connection in Haicheng?

    • Tina Fields Says:

      Oh! Thank you, Erin – I see I left out a crucial bit. Haicheng was the site of the first, and some say the only, successful timely earthquake prediction/action combo in known history. The city of approximately a million human residents was evacuated one day before a 7.3 earthquake hit in February 1975. The reason that Haicheng was evacuated was that they paid attention to two things: the foreshock sequence observed by seismologists AND the odd behavior of cats and other animals such as snakes, who were reportedly observed emerging from their hibernation dens way too early. (I don’t know what sort of behavior was thought odd in a cat.)

  3. Tim Says:

    Life Rule 162: If the animals are running uphill – follow them.

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