can snakes sense an earthquake

Can snakes sense an earthquake?

Humanity faces some of the deadliest natural calamities on Earth in the form of earthquakes. 

And despite advancements in technology, it is still not possible to predict earthquakes long enough to prevent serious damage.

But, does that mean we should now rely on animals for help? 

Experts say that animals have the ability to sense a natural disaster or a severe weather occurrence.

But, it is a different story when you talk about snakes. So, can snakes predict earthquakes?

Yes, it is believed that snakes can sense earthquakes because of their sensitivity to vibrations as well as seismic activities. 

The Unpredictability of Earthquakes

Earthquakes are devastating and they can cause serious harm.

And what makes them really dangerous is the fact that they can occur far from major fault lines. 

Most earthquakes are not that powerful.

the unpredictability of earthquakes

However, occasionally, a large earthquake may occur, which can be strong enough to knock down your chimney and throw your furniture around like a pair of dice.

However, the unpredictability of earthquakes is what makes them so dangerous.

A tornado cannot develop without an accompanying thunderstorm. Rain is necessary for floods to occur.

But, earthquakes can happen at any moment and in any place. Except if you have been consulting with snakes, of course!

Fact: According to the World Health Organization, earthquakes were responsible for the deaths of approximately 750,000 people worldwide between 1998 and 2017. 

Can Animals Really Sense Earthquakes?

can animals really sense earthquakes

The concept that certain animals can foretell earthquakes dates back thousands of years.

The Roman author Aelian described how snakes, rodents, and other animals fled the lost city of Helike in the days leading up to the earthquake and tsunami. 

According to Immanuel Kant’s research of the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, worms began to leave the soil in the days leading up to the disaster.

In most accounts of strange animal behavior just before an earthquake, reptiles and fish play a prominent role. 

Snakes can detect vibrations and infrared light, while fish can detect electric fields, thanks to their specialized sensory organs.

Perhaps they can use these senses to predict when a major earthquake will occur based on environmental changes, such as minor foreshocks or fluctuations in the nearby electromagnetic field. 

Can Snakes Sense an Earthquake?

the earthquake sensing abilities of snakes

Although snakes lack the auditory system most other animals use, their other senses compensate for that.

Snakes have no external ear canals, but an internal middle ear helps them detect vibrations and understand their environment.

Because of their closeness to the earth, snakes can quickly detect vibrations caused by sound.

Knowing about earthquakes four days in advance is possible thanks to a reptile with a heightened sensitivity to vibration.

And that is the reason why many people believe that snakes have the ability to foretell earthquakes. 

Do Studies Confirm Snakes Can Sense Earthquakes?

The study of snakes’ alleged sensitivity to earthquakes has progressed from anecdotal observations to rigorous laboratory testing.

Many studies now frequently include subjecting snakes to artificial earthquake tremors and analyzing their responses.

These studies validate previous observations that snakes are sensitive to seismic activity and can adjust their behavior accordingly. 

Some Real-Life Examples of Snakes Sensing Earthquakes

real-life examples of snakes sensing earthquakes

After hearing about snake sightings in cities, a former Turkish politician in 2017 tweeted an earthquake warning.

Two hours later, a 6.2 quake struck the country.

Similarly, a Montenegrin YouTuber posted a clip of a rare snake that usually only appears just before earthquakes in June 2022.

An earthquake struck Bosnia and Herzegovina a few hours later.

Snakes, perhaps more than any other animal, are extremely vulnerable to earthquakes, at least that is what experts believe.  

Snakes will leave their nests in the dead of winter if an earthquake is on the horizon.

And you may even see them crash into walls in their haste to get out of the way of an earthquake.

Fact: Snakes have the ability to detect an earthquake up to five days in advance, from a distance of 120 kilometers. 

How Can Snakes Sense an Earthquake?

how can snakes sense an earthquake

Okay, if you suppose that snakes can sense earthquakes, you may be wondering exactly what gives them this ability.

It could be due to various factors: 

Physiology and Sensory Mechanisms

Snakes can detect their surroundings through a wide variety of sensory structures and methods.

Despite having poor eyesight and hearing compared to other animals, they make up for it with their extraordinary sensitivity to vibrations and chemical cues.

For instance: 

Jacobson’s Organ

jacobson's organ

Jacobson’s organ, also called the vomeronasal organ, is a chemoreceptive sensory structure present in many reptiles, including snakes.

Located on the top of the snake’s mouth, this organ is sensitive to chemical stimuli.

Snakes are able to detect molecules in the air by flicking their forked tongues, which then transport the molecules to Jacobson’s organ for processing.

Because of their heightened sensitivity to chemical cues, snakes can detect even subtle changes in their environment

Detection of Vibrations

Snakes’ acute awareness of vibrations is a major contributor to their ability to detect earthquakes.

They can feel ground vibrations due to their specialized sensory system, the somatosensory system.

Vibrations are translated into neural signals that the brain can understand by using specialized structures in the skin, muscles, and vertebrae.

Vibrations, such as those caused by earthquakes, can be felt by snakes despite how faint they may be. 

Animal Communication

animal communication

 Numerous animal species, including snakes, rely heavily on interspecies communication to ensure their own existence.

You may already know that rodents, birds, and insects can sense earthquakes and exhibit a change in behavior. 

Snakes may take notice of these creatures’ out-of-character actions, like heightened agitation or rapid fleeing, as a warning indication.

Snakes are able to detect danger from an upcoming earthquake by catching up on these signals and reacting accordingly by finding cover or altering their activity patterns.

Fact: With over 3,000 known species of snakes, some are definitely going to be able to sense those subtle vibrations and temperature change before an earthquake to predict one. 

The Connection Between Snakes and Earthquakes

the connection between snakes and earthquakes

Considering how snakes change their behavior if an earthquake is in the making, it is safe to say that there has to be a connection between snakes and earthquakes. 

Pre-Earthquake Behavior

There have been multiple reports that snakes act strangely just before earthquakes.

It is not known for sure what causes the snakes to become so sensitive just before an earthquake.

But, it is believed that changes in the Earth’s magnetic field or higher ground vibrations may be to blame. 

Escaping Underground Burrows

escaping underground burrows

Snakes are known to emerge from their underground homes in the event of an earthquake or the precursory tremors that signal one is about to occur.

The increased vibrations may make the snakes feel threatened, causing them to seek refuge at the surface. 

This behavior may be adaptive, as it helps snakes survive earthquakes by keeping them above ground and out of harm’s way.

Changes in Activity Levels

Some people have noticed that snakes act differently before earthquakes. For instance, they can start acting erratically or get more irritated.

changes in activity levels

An increase in activity from certain snake species in the days before an earthquake may potentially serve as an early warning sign. 

Snakes might be trying to find refuge from an impending earthquake by becoming more active than usual

What can Affect Snake’s Sensitivity to Earthquakes?

what can affect snake's sensitivity to earthquakes

While it is true that snakes may be able to sense earthquakes, many factors can affect their ability or sensitivity to those subtle environmental changes.

For instance: 

Geographical Factors

Snakes’ susceptibility to earthquakes may vary with the type and location of habitat they like.

It is possible that snakes that inhabit locations where earthquakes are common, such as along tectonic plate borders or near fault lines, have developed a heightened sensitivity to seismic activity.

They use this ability as a means of self-preservation.

Moreover, snakes that spend most of their time in underground tunnels or crevices may be more sensitive to vibrations than those that spend most of their time above ground. 

Soil Composition

soil composition

Whether or not a snake can feel an earthquake depends in part on the soil’s composition in its natural environment.

Floodplains, which often have softer soils, can increase the intensity of seismic waves felt on the ground.

As a result, snakes in these regions may be more susceptible to earthquake-induced vibrations and more likely to display behavioral abnormalities in the lead-up to an earthquake.

Fact: Snakes have highly sensitive skin covered in scales, so they can easily detect minor changes in pressure, temperature, and surface texture.  


Can snakes sense an earthquake?

Well, it seems they can. It is mainly because of their heightened sensitivity to vibrations and seismic activity.

Sometimes, snakes living under the ground are more likely to sense an impending earthquake.

But, it is important to notice that snakes cannot always predict earthquakes because many geographical factors and soil composition can affect their sensitivity to signals suggesting an earthquake is in the making.