Solar eclipse could affect wild animals

The total solar eclipse is expected to have an effect on birds and other wildlife.

The imminent solar eclipse is exciting for humans to experience, but our wildlife counterparts may not agree.

While examining a mountain beaver's eyes Thursday, Dr. Lesanna Lahner said its sight is extra important, because he needs to escape predators in the dark when most of us can't see.

"These guys are actually fairly nocturnal so there's a chance that during the eclipse, mountain beavers might come out during the day," she said.

Though the solar eclipse won't last long enough to cause chaos, Lahner says, it could cause some changes.

"When it gets dark nocturnal animals, not just mountain beavers but owls might come out and start looking for food," said Sarvey Wildlife Care Center clinic manager Jessie Paollelo. "These little birds live in cavities so when it gets dark, they're more likely to go into cavities like trees or your chimney."

Even a short solar eclipse might send prey animals looking for shelter like they do at night, Paollelo said. It could also stir those who would typically be asleep.

"If little rats and mice and rodents get more active and dawn and dusk when it's natural for them to be, they'll hear that movement and they'll come out as well," Paollelo said.

There's not much research on solar eclipses and wildlife and Lahner believes any effect would likely wear off as soon as the eclipse ends.

Still, the wild is sensitive to environmental shifts.

"We've seen that any type of abrupt or quick changes in things that are usually very predictable can cause problems for animals. We don't expect the eclipse will harm any animals but you may see a shift in normal behavior, nocturnal animals coming out during the day, animals that are vulnerable at night might seek shelter," Lahner said.

© 2017 KING-TV


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