Animal behavior could change during 'Great American Eclipse'

Animal behavior could change during 'Great American Eclipse'

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - While we as humans are excited to see the total eclipse, our furry, scaly, and feathery friends may also show some signs that they are aware of the rare phenomenon.

Matt Thompson from Memphis Zoo stopped by WMC Action News 5 studios with two Chuckwallas--diurnal lizards that have special photo-sensors on their heads designed to detect sunlight. Diurnal means these animals are active during the day and sleep at night.

Thompson said once the photo-sensors detect the eclipse, melatonin will get released. They may then think it's nighttime and go to sleep. Of course, after the passing of the eclipse, that should reverse.

With thousands of species at the zoo, experts will be recording the behavior of the animals during the eclipse and will have that research available to the public.

What about our pets at home? The last time we had a total eclipse (99 years ago) it was recorded that dogs barked and birds fell from trees. With cell phones and the internet, it should be interesting to see just how animals react this time around.

Above all, make sure your cats and dogs have their eyes protected. Just like us, their eyes can be sensitive and affected by the eclipse. The best course of action would be to keep them inside for the duration of the eclipse—just to be on the safe side.

Memphis Zoo will be having an event featuring their animals and the eclipse. The first 1,000 people to show up will also receive free eclipse glasses. For more information on eclipse events in the Mid-South, click here.

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