Lots of questions coming in on wildlife and domestic animal response to the eclipse next week. Answer – During previous total eclipses – bees in Spain returned to the hive – some bird species did their night song and bedded down, but for the majority of animals at the London Zoo they showed little or no response. During the last total eclipse in Africa – lions, zebra, elephants, and crocs showed little effect. Frogs however started their dusk chorus and mosquito midges started their nightly swarms. In North America – nocturnal bats and owls showed no increased activity during the last eclipse, but the total darkness time is short and may not be long enough to cause a response. Also, the eclipse is silent so it does not elicit fear like thunderstorms or fireworks cause in dogs and cats. So I guess the answer is we don’t really know, although in previous eclipse episodes most animals showed little or no interest. People should definitely wear protective eye gear to watch the eclipse – even during the brief period of totality to be safe – but the verdict is out about animals. I think however that although animals could damage their eyes by looking directly at the sun and since dogs do follow a human gaze or pointing and might look at the eclipse – it is unlikely. Typically animals do not try and look at the sun and so rarely damage their eyes. So at this point I am not recommending pets wear protective glasses and if you are worried you could just put them inside during the eclipse. Total solar eclipses are very rare so most animals have developed no special eclipse behavior. It is going to be cool though- so get out and watch it.
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