The California earthquake of April 18, 1906 : report of the State Earthquake Investigation Commission, in two volumes and atlas.

Effect of the Earthquake on Animals

Miss Finette Locke, of Santa Cruz, has interested herself in an inquiry into the behavior of animals at the time of the earthquake, and has prepared lengthy notes reciting incidents which were reported to her as the effect of the main shock and the after-shocks upon animals in various parts of the Coast Ranges extending from Santa Rosa to Santa Cruz. Her notes, which refer chiefly to domesticated animals, form the basis for the following summary statement:

Horses. — Horses whinnied or snorted before the shock and stampeded when the latter was felt, some falling owing to the commotion of the ground. Horses in harness became frightened and ran away, while others stopt and screamed. Some horses with riders in the saddle stumbled and fell; others stood and shivered. A mule near Santa Rosa refused to eat all day. A farmer in the same neighborhood observed his horses moving about, whinnying and snorting, and called to his boy, who was with them, inquiring what was the matter, but before the boy could answer he felt the shock. In a stable of 30 horses on Alabama Street, San Francisco, all reared, snorted and jumped before

the stable-man, who had just fed them, knew the cause of the trouble. Of the 30, all but 5 broke their halters and came toward the stable-man, who had to keep them off with a pitchfork. Several horses at the various engine houses of the San Francisco Fire Department became frightened and broke away from their stalls. In stables generally horses broke away from their stalls, and some failing to break loose lay down.

Cattle. — Cattle on the hills came down to lower levels, and in some localities did not return to the hills for some days after the shock. Cows in corrals near the fault-line were in many localities thrown to the ground; others stampeded and ran about wildly. At Olema cows in the milking corral were thrown to the ground and rolled over, and as soon as they could stand they stampeded. The stampeding of cows from the milking corral was reported at many ranches. Several instances were reported where cows stampeded before the shock was felt by the observer. In other cases cows about to be milked are said to have been restless before the shock and to have lain down as soon as the shock was felt, some giving less milk than usual. Two cows near Duncan's Mills are said to have died as a result of the shock. Several cows dropt calves prematurely. Lowing and bellowing of the cattle at the time of the shock was very commonly reported, and in some cases this is said to have occurred a little before the shock.

Cats. — Various reports regarding the behavior of cats at the time of the earthquake and the after-shocks indicate that they became alarmed. Some rushed about wildly, with big tails and bristling backs; some hid in dark corners and otherwise behaved abnormally; some disappeared for several days after the shock. In the after-shocks, cats seemed to perceive the tremor before people did, and crouched in fright or ran. At Olema 7 cats were not seen for 2 days after the shock, and in Alameda some cats disappeared for 3 days. Some carried off their kittens.

Dogs. — Dogs generally became alert before the after-shocks, and barked, whined, or ran to cover. After the shock some ran away and did not return for a day or several days. Some barked at the time of the shock and ran about with their tails between their legs. Many sought the protection of houses and stayed close to people after the shock. One dog near Santa Rosa ran about the house for 10 seconds before the shock was felt, and then jumped out of an open window down one story to the ground. Some dogs were in an excited condition, running about vaguely for some time after the shock; and this was repeated at the after-shocks. Others ran straight away at full speed. Some bitches brought their puppies to what apparently seemed to them safer quarters. Some took to their beds for several days after the shock and others refused to eat. The most common report regarding the behavior of dogs was their howling during the night preceding the earthquake.

Chickens. — Chickens generally ran for shelter to their houses, with their wings outstretched, squawking.

Wild animals in confinement. — The wild animals in confinement at the Chutes, San Francisco, crouched and remained quiet during the shock, but roared after it was over, led by the elephant. The elephant also roared at the times of the after-shocks.

About this text
Courtesy of The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-6000;
Title: The California earthquake of April 18, 1906 : report of the State Earthquake Investigation Commission, in two volumes and atlas.
By:  California. State Earthquake Investigation Commission, Lawson, Andrew C. (Andrew Cowper), 1861-1952
Date: 1908-10
Contributing Institution: The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720-6000;
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