Family & Pets
Here’s how animals both big and small reacted to Melbourne’s earthquake
In case you missed it, Victoria experienced the largest earthquake in its history on Wednesday, with a quake registering at a 5.9 on the Richter scale taking place 128km from Melbourne. A total of seven earthquakes struck Victoria, with tremors felt as far away as Sydney, Adelaide, and Launceston.
We’ve already covered how humans responded to the surprise shakes, but how did animals respond? The answer is that animal responses to the tremors were as varied as their human counterparts.
First up is Carol the cat, who noticed something was happening before her human did. Per the human, Brodie, “I am a dumb woman who thought for a sec *this toy was making the floor shake*.”
Up next is footage from a Zoos Victoria livestream, featuring birds scattering to the four winds, zebras not quite sure how to respond, and a giraffe calmly surveying its domain for damage (presumably).
Not a joke: the earthquake started as I was filming Carol playing with her new floppy fish toy. You can see her notice something’s happening here before I do. I am a dumb woman who thought for a sec *this toy was making the floor shake*. pic.twitter.com/Z3BTPEN0Pl
— Brodie Lancaster (@brodielancaster) September 21, 2021
Lastly we have the Collins St falcons, Melbourne icons and expectant parents. The pair of adult peregrine falcons make their home at 367 Collins Street, in Melbourne’s CBD, following in a long line of falcons that have been roosting there since 1991.
— Charles Powell (@charlesalexpow) September 22, 2021
One enterprising viewer of the falcon livestream recorded the father’s reaction to the earthquake, which is incredibly adorable. Dad was sitting on the eggs (which might begin to hatch as soon as next week; follow the Facebook group for updates) when the tremors started, prompting him to hop off the nest and look into the camera as if to say, ‘what gives?’ He then paused for a few moments before divebombing off the building, in classic dad fashion.
Fortunately, mum turned up just a few minutes later, so the eggs weren’t left unattended for long. Dad probably just wanted to go and check out the damage over on Chapel Street.
— Anneliese Mak (@AnnelieseMak) September 21, 2021
Many people were wondering why their beloved pets didn’t warn them that an earthquake was imminent – after all, don’t animals have a sixth sense about this sort of thing? It turns out that the answer to that is: it’s complicated, but probably not.
There’s currently no evidence that animals have developed any vibrational-based sensory capacity, according to astronomer Rami Mandow. In addition, this review article from the Bulletin of the Seismological Society of America argues that the evidence suggests “at least parts of the reported animal precursors are in fact related to foreshocks”; that is, small earthquakes that precede larger earthquakes in the same location. So don’t be disappointed that your beloved household pet didn’t warn you in advance – they were most likely just as confused as you were.
Before we get any of the usual (and wrong) takes on 'animals felt the earthquake' - no evidence currently exists in which animals have developed any vibrational-based sensory capacity. They might sense variation of P vs. S waves, but time interval between too small
— Rami Mandow 🏳️🌈 (@CosmicRami) September 22, 2021
Image: Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images Images