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Author Topic: The full moon and animal behavior
Rexodus
Deck the Malls


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I was talking about Halloween to someone at work today, and we got onto the subject of full moons. He insisted that animals are "more active" during a full moon. Although refused to define the phrase "more active", he claimed that it had something to do with aggression and that there was scientific evidence substantiating the link. He also claimed that the trend worked pretty much across the board: marine animals, land animals, vertebrates, inverts, etc.

I've heard that some marine animals, like fiddler crabs, have reproductive cycles linked to the full moon (something to do with the tides.) But I've never heard about any kind of trend with terrestrial animals. I suppose maybe the increased light could make prey more visible or something. Anybody know if there's anything more to this than folklore and speculation?

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"Your name is Thurmon Mermon?"

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Hero_Mike
Happy Holly Days


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Wouldn't the activity of nocturnal animals - some of which hunt using sight (owls, for example) - vary with the full moon? There's a considerable difference in light level which makes this easier for predators (which would become more active), and harder for prey (which probably don't have the choice of becoming *less active* because they still need to eat every day).

I'd say that it's probably more truth than fiction...

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"The fate of *billions* depends on you! Hahahahaha....sorry." Lord Raiden - Mortal Kombat

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Rexodus
Deck the Malls


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The advantage in hunting stands to reason, but do you know if it's ever been studied or any evidence published?

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"Your name is Thurmon Mermon?"

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BLD
The Red and the Green Stamps


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I have worked with animals all my life, the last three years I have worked very closely with dogs as a groomer. I have noticed behavioral changes in dogs when the full moon is near. Not anything specific but changes in the dogs normal behavior. Most of the dogs I would groom on a regular 4-6 week basis so I would be accustomed to their attitude and behavior. I can always tell when a full moon is approaching because the dogs would start acting strange. And it wouldnt be only one dog, all the dogs in the salon would just be acting odd.
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KentuckyGhostHunter
Deck the Malls


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as a completely personal note...I can attest to fact that my own dog (a sheltie/golden retriever mix) acts exceptionally more hyper and playful on the dfew days before and on the full moon than at any other time during the month.

Noticably so

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Buzzkiller
Deck the Malls


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Doesn't the Farmer's Alamanac give guidelines on the best time to wean animals based upon the phases of the moon? When I was nursing my first baby, a rather flaky chiropractor told me to let him know when I was ready to wean the baby, and that he'd check on the lunar cycles and tell me when to begin. He claimed that farmers have been doing it with their cows and calves for centuries.
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Ulkomaalainen
Jingle Bell Hock


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I've been told that many medieval "rules" like the one I would expect in a farmer's almanac (if it translates to German as I think it does) actually work quite well, but not for the stated reasons (i.e. phases of the moon, day of the week, certain dates) having any particular importance, but because with easy-to-remember rules a certain rhythm and regularity was "enforced" that may have lacked with less caring farmers if it only said "every month", plus it helped to maybe use some farmer's superstitions (remember that in medieval times it was more important to society as a whole than it is now that a particular farmer was doing well, because if he didn't you often couldn't buy the stuff someplace else). Same for babies: you really needed them to feed you when you would be growing old, so you would set up "guidelines" for treating them that work well and phrase them in a way even the most gullible parents would understand. (Okay, little oversimplification here, but you get the idea).

As for the full moon theory: I remain sceptic unless I get a convincing cite - I've worked with statistics long enough to know how easily you see patterns where there are none - no offence meant, it happens to myself too, though I should know better. It's not outlandish that e.g. the full moon's brightness changes animal behaviour (though clouds and stuff surely would mess that up?!). There must have been studies about that.

Ulko "does not look at a new moon out of respect for the old one" maalainen

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Movie characters never make typing mistakes.

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Don Enrico
Happy Xmas (Warranty Is Over)


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quote:
Originally posted by Hero_Mike:
Wouldn't the activity of nocturnal animals - some of which hunt using sight (owls, for example) - vary with the full moon? There's a considerable difference in light level which makes this easier for predators (which would become more active), and harder for prey (which probably don't have the choice of becoming *less active* because they still need to eat every day).

I'd say that it's probably more truth than fiction...

Wouldn't an owl (that is specialysed for hunting under poor light conditions and has developed silent flight in order not to be heard by it's pray) have harder times hunting in full moonlight because now the prey can see the bird?

Don "just guessing blindly" Enrico

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My spelling is Wobbly. It's good spelling, but it Wobbles, and the letters get in the wrong places. - Pooh Bear

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Horse Chestnut
Happy Holly Days


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quote:
Originally posted by Ulkomaalainen:
...As for the full moon theory: I remain sceptic unless I get a convincing cite - I've worked with statistics long enough to know how easily you see patterns where there are none - no offence meant, it happens to myself too, though I should know better. It's not outlandish that e.g. the full moon's brightness changes animal behaviour (though clouds and stuff surely would mess that up?!). There must have been studies about that.

Ulko "does not look at a new moon out of respect for the old one" maalainen

I'm not coming out "for or agin" the theory that a full moon effects behavior, but just to note that as I understood, it was the gravitational pull of the full moon and its distance from the earth that caused the effect, not the brightness.

Just as the full moon leads to higher and stronger tides, the moon's pull was thought to have a similar effect on our own bodily fluids.

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smartymarty66
I Saw Three Shipments


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I know when we were on the great barrier reef, we had to be careful about lights at night time when the baby turtle hatched. Aparently they hatch when the moon is full and use it to get to the ocean. Leaving lights on confuses them and they head the wrong way. We were at the science research station when notified of this ( there were messages placed above the light switch), so I assume it true, but I have also seen baby turtles hatching during daylight.
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timbobmc
Jingle Bell Hock


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smartymarty66, not just when hatching. I was camping at a Florida SP this summer during turtle laying time and was told not to use an unfiltered light on the beach at night. Red filter was okay, but nothing else. The whole beach area, residential, commercial and park, had the signs up.

But, now that I think about it, we did have a full moon while I was there. [Confused]

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Ich bin der Welt abhanden gekommen.

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