Animal Sentience Stories: Sixth Sense


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This page highlights stories and information that shows that animals possess a sixth sense.

This page is part of a section concerning animal sentience which relates true stories, information and accounts of animal sentience.
For an introduction: Animal Sentience Stories

Emotion Love Altruism Empathy Pleasure Intelligence and ingenuity
Friendship Jealousy Grief Language


 Sixth Sense

Animals Have a Sense of beauty

Animal Morality Mental Health  

Click the links above to go to read stories and information that highlight these characteristics and abilities in animals.

Animals and sixth Sense

What is a sixth sense?

This is one attribute that most humans do not have while many animals do.  But is there really a sixth sense? If so what is it? Is it an entirely different ability that we neither have nor understand, or if we did at one time have such an ability have we now lost it? Is it a supernatural psychic ability or is it that some animals simply have an enhancement of their five senses.

What follows will be a brief account of the possible meanings and interpretations of what many call a sixth sense and how it presents in animals followed by accounts and stories of animal sixth sense abilities. This page hopes to provided unbiased information about the two possibilities concerning the nature of what we call a sixth sense:  Sixth sense as an enhancement of the five senses and Sixth sense as a psychic supernatural ability.

Sixth sense as an enhancement of the five senses

What may appear to be supernatural abilities in animals to perceive things in their environment of which we are unaware may simply be result of heightened senses.

Dogs sometimes appear to react with no information, at least no information that we are aware of. However this may be the result of the fact that dogs can hear sounds that we cannot hear and are perhaps not tuned into a sixth sense in a supernatural way but rather have a higher level of hearing capacity that is beyond that of humans. Another example is of bats who appear to locate prey almost as though they too have an extra sense, however this is achieved by the emission of ultrasonic waves, beyond human hearing, to echolocate prey much like radar.

Many animals are it appears aware that an earthquake is on the way. There are various ideas that may offer an explanation for the abilities of animals to detect the approach of earthquakes and move to a safer place.

Elephants are particularly sensitive in this regard and seem to know when an earthquake is immanent and this may appear as though they and other animals have a sixth sense, something that we humans lack. Such abilities on the part of elephants and other animals may seem paranormal but elephants have corpuscle sensors in the joints which allow elephants and many other animals to feel seismic waves through the ground. In this way elephants can locate other elephants by the seismic shock waves that their heavy bodies produce. Elephants stomp on the ground to communicate with other elephants and therefore use this ability to their advantage

Scorpions also are sensitive to vibrations in the ground. The seismic shockwaves from tremors pass through the earth most vigorously as Rayleigh waves, a type of surface acoustic wave that travels on solids and many animals can detect them.  They are produced on the Earth by earthquakes, in which case they are also known as "ground roll", or by other sources of seismic energy such as ocean waves, an explosion or even a sledgehammer impact.  Rayleigh waves are inaudible, they are however detected by many mammals, birds, insects and spiders and should also be detected by humans who should be able to detect Rayleigh waves through their Pacinian corpuscles, which are in the joints, although people do not seem to consciously respond to these signals. It is theorized that elephants and other animals use Rayleigh waves to communicate and that elephants use vocalizations to produce Rayleigh waves which are of a higher frequency than those produced by earthquakes and can travel long distances and decay only slowly. It has been suggested that it was through the means of Rayleigh waves that animals knew of the coming of the 2004 Indian Ocean Earthquake and were thus able to move to higher ground. It has also been postulated that animals may have the ability to sense infrasonic sound waves - sound that is lower in frequency than 20 Hz (Hertz) or cycles per second, the "normal" limit of human hearing - travelling through the air which may have provided them with an early warning.

In the 2004 tsunami Infrasound or infrasonic sound may have been generated by an underwater rupture .*)

Infrasound has also been mentioned as means of long-distance communication in African elephants. These calls may be used to coordinate the movement of herds and allow male elephants to find mates.

Read more by visiting the websites below

Sixth sense as a psychic supernatural ability

Many pet owners believe that their animals are sometimes possessed of telepathic abilities and about a half of dog owners and about one third of cat owners consider that their dog or cat responds to silent commands, many horse trainers think likewise. Those of us who share our lives with animals may have recognised their uncanny knowledge that lets them know that you intend to take them to the vet. Dog owners have recognised how their dog seems to know when they are coming home even though the times of the home coming are not regular. For an account of a dog knowing when his owner is returning home click here for an example from a book written in the early 20th century, How Animals Talk by William L. long. Other examples of telepathy can also be found in the same section of this website Sentience in Farm Animals.

Richard Sheldrake, biologist and writer and the author of Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home has for several years with the help of animal trainers, shepherds, blind people with guide dogs, veterinarians and pet owners,  investigated some of the strange and unexplained powers that animals appear to possess. In an article entitled The Unexplained Powers Of Animals he has put them into three separate categories : telepathy, the sense of direction and premonition.


Dogs, claim Richard Sheldrake and his colleges, seem to know when their human companion is returning home even though he or she may return from random places and at random times of the day.

An example of dog telepathy :

The commonest kinds of seemingly telepathic response are the anticipation by dogs and cats of their owners coming home; the anticipation of owners going away; the anticipation of being fed; cats disappearing when their owners intend to take them to the vet; dogs knowing when their owners are planning to take them for a walk; and animals that get excited when their owner is on the telephone, even before the telephone is answered.

by Rupert Sheldrake

Even more strange, it appears that some dogs and cats know when a particular person is on the telephone before the receiver is even picked up. The wife of a Berkeley professor always knows when her husband is on the telephone because their cat rushes to the phone the moment it rings, paws the receiver off the hook and proceeds to meow down the phone, however if someone else is on the phone he simply takes no notice.

Sheldrake cites another remarkable example of a terrier called Jaytee, his owner had a close bond with him after adopting him from a Dog's home in Manchester. His owner left Jaytee with her parents while she went to work. The dog always knew when she was to return home and waited by the French windows forty minutes before her owner was due to arrive home.  After a time his owner's routine became irregular and her parents did not know when she would arrive home however Jaytee did.

The sense of direction

The sense of direction an obvious example is the way in which homing pigeons find their way after travelling for hundreds of miles of unfamiliar terrain. Other examples Sheldrake's mentions are migrating European swallows who travel to their feeding grounds in Africa and returning in the spring. Also cats dogs and horses make their way home from unfamiliar places .


Concerning the anticipation of an impending earthquake and other disasters are of course mentioned along with more mysterious examples such as animals somehow anticipating air raids long before it was possible to hear their approach.

You can read more detailed information concerning the above in the article
The Unexplained Powers Of Animals

by Rupert Sheldrake

The short film below explains Rupert Sheldrake ideas concerning the ability of some dogs to know when their owners are due to return home and

Rupert Sheldrake - Dog Telepathy Experiment & Morphic Fields

Stories and information about Animal Sixth sense

The stories below are included at face value I have not divided them into the categories of Sixth sense as an enhancement of the five senses or Sixth sense as a psychic supernatural ability, it is up to the reader to decide. Concerning sixth sense and sentience, either way the presence of what we refer to as sixth sense supports the idea that animals are sentient beings aware of themselves, each other and their environment, in fact possibly more aware them most humans.

Dogs are good at sensing bad weather say seventy two percent of dog owners

A farm dog, a Pomeranian named Austin, gives warnings about 15 minutes before earthquakes and 45 minutes before thunderstorms says his owner:

"He'll run around in circles and look at you. If you sit down, he'll sit down with you. If you are outside, he will come up to you, run around, look off, sniff your leg, just kind of be there. He's a lot more active," said Fulstone, 65, of Wellington, Nev. "For the quakes, he was very alert and started barking and doing his run-around routine."

Read More

Are humans descended from an animal with a sixth sense

Maybe not in a supernatural way but recent research has shown that human beings along with other vertebrates may have evolved from a  predatory fish-like ancestor who roamed the oceans 500million years ago and had 'electrosensors' - the ability to detect electric fields in water.

Read more:

This page  will be updated and added to when further information and stories are found. If you have a story to tell about animals and sixth sense please consider including it here by e-mailing Christine Contact

* I have endeavoured to provide accurate references for stories found on the internet however some of the stories are so frequently repeated that the original source is not easily identifiable. If you see any story here that is yours for which you have not been credited for or have not given permission for its inclusion please Contact me.


Credit Photo: (c) 2008 by Wanda Embar, Vegan Peace. Picture taken at Farm Sanctuary.

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Important please note:

I am not an animal expert of any kind just your average person who loves animals, all animals, and feels deeply about the plight of many of our fellow creatures. Neither am I a writer, or any other expert. Therefore please keep in mind that the information included in this website has been researched to the best of my ability and any misinformation is quite by accident but of course possible.

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