March 25, 2024 at 12:44 pm

Scientists Seek To Understand Why Animals Act Strange During A Solar Eclipse And Are Asking The Public To Document Their Behavior

by Trisha Leigh

Source: Shutterstock

We’ve been lucky enough over the past several years to see at least one solar eclipse here in the United States.

With another one – this time a total eclipse for people from Texas all the way to Maine – occuring on April 8, 2024, it’s a good time to talk about all of the strange phenomenons that occur along with it.

Like, for instance, the way animals immediately change their behavior in the lack of sunlight midday.

When the eclipse happened in 2017, scientists were able to make some firsthand and interesting observations.

Source: Shutterstock

For example, they saw bees taking a break from their daily routines in three states. Namely, they stopped buzzing at the time of totality. Since bees usually fly more slowly at night, this suggests that they rely on environmental cues like light to know when it’s time to return to the hive.

At the Riverbanks Zoo in South Carolina, scientists observed 17 different species behaving oddly. The gorillas and the elephants, for example, all started heading toward their nighttime enclosure.

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The Galapagos tortoises huddled together just before totality, and one couple even began mating. They scattered as complete darkness fell, then resumed their normal, lazy lifestyle as things returned to normal.

Scientists are unsure of the reason for this behavior, but wonder whether or not it could be an anxiety response.

This time, more zoos are set and ready to make their own observations in the hopes of getting more answers.

The Solar Eclipse Safari project is also asking members of the public who are in the path of the eclipse to get involved.

There are full details on how to participate on the website, but basically, they’d like you to record animal behavior around you as the eclipse happens.

Source: Shutterstock

They’re not talking about pets, though, because most behavior experts like vet Dr. Rena Carlson, believe if our pets are behaving oddly, it’s probably because we have altered their expected routes with our own actions.

“They’re going to react more to our reactions, our excitement and our anxiety than anything actually from the actual eclipse.”

Other animals like birds, squirrels, and anything else you see running around, though, are fair game.