Animal Rain: What the F is it?!

By Jessica Grano de Oro

Ever heard the phrase it’s raining cats and dogs? Well, even though it does not literally mean that it is raining cats and dogs, there are some scientists that believe that such thing as animal rain exists.

So what is it exactly? The term pretty much gives it away: it is a bizarre weather phenomenon in which animals fall from the sky like rain.

[Credit: OpenClipart-Vectors on Pixabay]

Though this may seem like the stuff of urban legends, there have people throughout history that claimed to have seen this incident with their own eyes. This dates back to thousands of years ago, from eyewitnesses like Pliny the Elder in the first century, a Roman writer who reported a storm of fish and frogs; French soldiers spotting a downpour of toads in the 18th century; as well as some accounts from the present day.

Alasdair Wilkins, a blogger, mentions in his article that the most recent sightings have been in Australia, the Philippines and some parts of Asia in the last five years. He explains that inhabitants of Yoro, Honduras are most familiar with this occurrence as fish rain supposedly happens every summer in their country; or as they call it, ‘Lluvia de Peces’.

Wilkins quotes what a traveller heard, one of the few English pieces found around this topic, when he went to Honduras in 2006:

“A massive storm hits the surrounding countryside of the village with swirling winds and thick, pouring rain. Out of nowhere appear dozens of live fish right there on the fields, flapping in the rainwater. The locals believe this to be a miracle from God, finding no explanation other than fish falling down from heaven.”

[Credit: Olaus Magnus sourced from Wikipedia]

The most common types of animals that are associated with these sightings are fish and amphibians and sometimes birds as well, which Wilkins addresses in another article. Sadly, no cats and dogs here.

Still, one burning question remains: how does animal rain actually happen? The truth is that no one has an answer to that.

It is considered that a good number of witnesses probably had a questionable reliability and did not see what they think they saw. According to the Library of Congress, some people falsely reported an animal rainfall just because they saw large numbers of worms, frogs, and birds lying on the ground after a storm; the article explaining that those animals might have come from different places, such as the earth or trees.

However, the French physicist André-Marie Ampère did come up with a hypothesis to justify why animal rain happens, which is still used nowadays by scientists. He suggested that animals on the countryside, mostly small ones, often cluster together in one big group, so when a storm comes they would be swept up and into the air by the hard gusts of wind. Then what comes up must come down, hence why they all fall down like rain.

As for the fish rain, Ampère explained the cause was probably waterspouts, i.e. tornados that form on water. His theory, however, has the problem that no one has actually seen a tornado shot up a myriad of fish into the sky, and therefore no visual footage is available.

[Credit: Mr. Steve Nicklas, NOAA Photo Library]

The cause for animal rain still remains a mystery, and its existence is still debated by scientists to this day. But, who knows: maybe somebody will post a video on YouTube of a cloud of tuna waving hello as they launch skyward.

What are your thoughts on this phenomenon? Do you think it’s probably false, or that there may be some logic behind it? Tweet us @TridentMediaUK!

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