Whenever a natural disaster like a hurricane or a tornado is about to strike, it seems like news outlets go a bit nuts covering it. Case in point? The recent path of Hurricane Florence, which hit down on North Carolina and left a flooding crisis in its wake. In the days leading up to Florence there was lots of speculation about evacuation and the impact the hurricane would have on residents, with preparation plans and survival strategies coming quickly to fruition.
One thing North Carolina officials didn’t worry about before the storm hit though was the fate of the state’s beloved wild horses. While many locals wondered how the horses would weather the storm if left behind, experts knew the animals could take care of themselves.
“They’re smarter than us,” herd manager Meg Puckett of the Corolla Wild Horses of the Curritcuk Outer Banks said. “They have really good instincts. These horses have lived in this area for 500 years. We can already see now, they’re starting to group together. They know where the high ground is. They know where to go.”
Wild horses aren’t the only animals that have historically weathered a natural disaster. Read on for seven more creatures whose survival instincts kicked in before the storm.
Birds are able to sense drops in barometric pressure, so if a natural disaster is about to hit they usually know before we do. But how they cope varies: some may fly right into a storm, some will take off before it hits, and others—like the Puerto Rican parrot did when Hurricane Maria hit—will seek shelter wherever they are.
In 2011 when a series of tropical storms hit the New York City area, local bass swam down the Hudson River and toward coastal waters in a bid to survive. According to biologists it was behaviour they hadn’t seen before, marking a new shift for the species in the wake of an increased number of natural disasters.
Sharks may be popular predators, but even they need to seek shelter when the weather shifts. According to a 2003 study the animals have been known to move towards deeper water in search of safety just before the bad weather hits, giving themselves a better chance at survival.
When Hurricane Luis and Hurricane Marilyn hit in 1995, 15 green iguanas got with the program and (now famously) rode waterlogged trees from Guadeloupe to Anguilla in order to survive. Sure, it seems like a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants solution, but it’s a pretty genius one if you ask us.
When a massive tsunami hit the Point Calimere wildlife sanctuary in India in December 2004, the local flamingos ditched their habitats there in search of higher ground before disaster hit, saving themselves in the process.
In February 1975, Haicheng, China, was hit by a 7.3 magnitude earthquake. Just days before that monumental event, hibernating snakes quickly fled their hideouts, alerting officials that something bad was coming and potentially saving thousands of human lives in the process.
When scientists studying the breeding habits of toads in Italy, 2009, discovered that the creatures in the pond they were using had disappeared, they were vexed. Three days later a nearby town experienced a 5.9 magnitude earthquake. Apparently the toads could sense it was coming and they hopped off to higher ground.