It’s raining ants! And birds, lizards, spiders, and even fish. While it’s no Sharknado, extreme weather can lead to animals falling from the sky. But some animal rain is actually part of natural behavior. This video from SciShow, which we found on Laughing Squid, explains why five critters tumble from above.
In perhaps one of the most Florida things ever, the Miami weather service sends out alerts about falling iguanas when the temperature dips into the 40s. Iguanas aren’t adapted to the occasional cold snaps because they are not native to Florida. They freeze and aren’t able to cling to their perches.
Many of the iguanas recover from their frozen falls. The agency warns residents not to disturb them or try to help, as they could snap out of it at any time.
Large flocks of birds that move in unison are called murmurations. Sometimes these flocks fly too close to a hazard, like a building. Or the ground. This is obviously startling for anyone nearby and could come across as something Biblical or out of a horror movie.
Ants and Spiders
It turns out ants are able to maneuver if they fall out of trees. Tree-dwelling ants get lost if they fall all the way to the ground. So they’ve adapted to control glide back to the trunk of their home tree. Thankfully, warnings about enormous spider rain are overblown. It’s only the tiny baby spiders that balloon. So yes, there are flying spiders. But at least they’re very small.
Fish rain likely occurs when waterspouts pick up small animals. They get sucked up into the sky until the waterspout loses power. Then gravity takes over and the fish fall. The aftermath often perplexes people, with fish littering the ground sometimes miles away from water.
There’s also a man-made reason fish sometimes rain from the sky. The government stocks mountain lakes in Utah using small airplanes. They fly low and release water and fish. It’s the most efficient way to stock lakes, and it doesn’t affect the native fish. The video below from Science Insider includes footage of this type of fish rain.
The SciShow YouTube channel has other great videos about some of the many mysteries left here on planet Earth. Whether it’s in the form of extreme weather, falling critters, or unexplained animal behaviors, nature can still be very surprising.
Melissa is Nerdist’s science & technology staff writer. She also moderates “science of” panels at conventions and co-hosts Star Warsologies, a podcast about science and Star Wars. Follow her on Twitter @melissatruth.