Rain of animals

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A rain of fish was recorded in Singapore in 1861, when during three days of torrential rain numerous fish were found in puddles
Raining snakes, 1680.

Raining animals is a rare meteorological phenomenon in which flightless animals fall from the sky. Such occurrences have been reported in many countries throughout history.[1] One hypothesis is that tornadic waterspouts sometimes pick up creatures such as fish or frogs, and carry them for up to several miles.[1][2] However, this aspect of the phenomenon has never been witnessed by scientists.[3]


Rain of flightless animals and things has been reported throughout history.[1] In the first century AD, Roman naturalist Pliny The Elder documented storms of frogs and fish.[4] In 1794, French soldiers saw toads fall from the sky during heavy rain at Lalain, near the French city of Lille.[5] Rural inhabitants in Yoro, Honduras, claim 'fish rain' happens there every summer, a phenomenon they call Lluvia de Peces.[6]


Tornadoes and waterspouts may lift up animals into the air and deposit them miles away

French physicist André-Marie Ampère (1775 – 1836) was among the first scientists to take seriously accounts of raining animals. Addressing the Society of Natural Sciences,[when?] Ampère suggested that at times frogs and toads roam the countryside in large numbers, and that violent winds could pick them up and carry them great distances.[3]

After a reported rain of fish in Singapore in 1861, French naturalist Francis de Laporte de Castelnau speculated that a migration of walking catfish had taken place, dragging themselves over land from one puddle to another, following the rain.[7]

Sometimes the animals survive the fall, suggesting the animals are dropped shortly after extraction. Several witnesses of raining frogs describe the animals as startled but healthy, and exhibiting relatively normal behavior shortly after the event. In some incidents, the animals are frozen to death or even completely encased in ice. There are examples where the product of the rain is not intact animals, but shredded body parts.

A current scientific hypothesis involves tornadic waterspouts: a tornado that forms over the water.[1][8][9][10] Under this hypothesis, a tornadic waterspout transports animals to relatively high altitudes, carrying them over large distances. This hypothesis appears supported by the type of animals in these rains: small and light, usually aquatic,[11] and by the suggestion that the rain of animals is often preceded by a storm. However, the theory does not account for how all the animals involved in each individual incident would be from only one species, and not a group of similarly-sized animals from a single area.[12]

Doppler Image from Texas showing the collision of a thunderstorm with a group of bats in flight. The color red indicates the animals flying into the storm.

In the case of birds, storms may overcome a flock in flight, especially in times of migration. The image to the right shows an example wherein a group of bats is overtaken by a thunderstorm.[13] In the image, the bats are in the red zone, which corresponds to winds moving away from the radar station, and enter into a mesocyclone associated with a tornado (in green). These events may occur easily with birds, which can get killed in flight, or stunned and then fall (unlike flightless creatures, which first have to be lifted into the air by an outside force). Sometimes this happens in large groups, for instance, the blackbirds falling from the sky in Beebe, Arkansas, United States on December 31, 2010.[14] It is common for birds to become disoriented (for example, because of bad weather or fireworks) and collide with objects such as trees or buildings, killing them or stunning them into falling to their death. The number of blackbirds killed in Beebe is not spectacular considering the size of their congregations, which can be in the millions.[15] The event in Beebe, however, captured the imagination and led to more reports in the media of birds falling from the sky across the globe, such as in Sweden and Italy,[16] though many scientists claim such mass deaths are common occurrences but usually go unnoticed.[17] In contrast, it is harder to find a plausible explanation for rains of terrestrial animals.


The following list is a selection of examples.


1555 engraving of rain of fish


Frogs and toads[edit]


"Raining cats and dogs"[edit]

A 19th-century cartoon by English artist George Cruikshank illustrating the phrase "raining cats and dogs" (and "pitchforks")

The English idiom "it is raining cats and dogs", used to describe an especially heavy rain, is of unknown etymology, and is not necessarily related to the "raining animals" phenomenon.[47] The phrase (with "polecats" instead of "cats") was used at least since the 17th century.[48][49] A number of possible etymologies have been put forward to explain the phrase; for example:[50]

  • Drainage systems on buildings in 17th-century Europe were poor, and may have disgorged their contents during heavy showers, including the corpses of any animals that had accumulated in them. This occurrence is documented in Jonathan Swift's 1710 poem 'Description of a City Shower', in which he describes "Drowned puppies, stinking sprats, all drenched in mud,/Dead cats and turnip-tops come tumbling down the flood."[51]
  • "Cats and dogs" may be a corruption of the Greek word Katadoupoi, referring to the waterfalls on the Nile,[47] possibly through the old French word catadupe ("waterfall").
  • The Greek phrase "kata doksa", which means "contrary to expectation" is often applied to heavy rain, but there is no evidence to support the theory that it was borrowed by English speakers.[47]

In addition to at least one folk etymology:

  • An "explanation" widely circulated by email claimed that in 16th-century Europe, when peasant homes were commonly thatched, animals could crawl into the thatch to find shelter from the elements and would fall out during heavy rain. However, there seems to be no evidence in support of either assertion.[52]

There may not be a logical explanation; the phrase may have been used just for its nonsensical humor value, like other equivalent English expressions ("it is raining pitchforks", "hammer handles", etc.).

Other languages have equally bizarre expressions for heavy rain:[53][54]

  • Afan Oromo: Waaqatu baqaqe ("the sky got torned")
  • Afrikaans: ou vrouens met knopkieries reën ("old women with clubs")
  • Albanian: po bie litarë-litarë ("[rain] is falling ropes-ropes"), ("is falling like ropes")
  • Albanian: po bën Zoti shurrën ("God is taking a piss")
  • Albanian: po qan Zoti ("God is crying")
  • Bengali: মুষলধারে বৃষ্টি পড়ছে musholdhare brishṭi poṛchhe ("rain is falling like pestles")
  • Bosnian: padaju ćuskije ("crowbars")
  • Bosnian: lije ko iz kabla ("it's pouring like from a bucket")
  • Cantonese: "落狗屎" ("dog poo")
  • Chinese: "倾盆大雨" ("its pouring out of basins")
  • Catalan: Ploure a bots i barrals ("boats and barrels")
  • Croatian: padaju sjekire ("axes dropping")
  • Czech: padají trakaře ("wheelbarrows")
  • Czech: leje jako z konve ("like from a watering can")
  • Danish: det regner skomagerdrenge ("shoemakers' apprentices")
  • Dutch: het regent pijpenstelen ("pipe stems or stair rods")
  • Dutch (Flemish): het regent oude wijven ("old women")
  • Dutch (Flemish): het regent kattenjongen ("kittens")
  • Estonian: sajab nagu oavarrest ("It's raining like from a beanstalk")
  • Finnish: Sataa kuin Esterin perseestä ("It's raining like from Esteri's ass")
  • Finnish: Sataa kuin saavista kaatamalla ("It's raining like poured from a bucket")
  • French: il pleut comme vache qui pisse ("it is raining like a peeing cow")
  • French: il pleut des seaux ("it's raining buckets")
  • French: il pleut des hallebardes ("it is raining halberds"), clous ("nails"), or cordes ("ropes")
  • German: Es regnet junge Hunde ("young dogs") or Es schüttet wie aus Eimern ("like poured from buckets")
  • Greek: βρέχει καρεκλοπόδαρα ("chair legs")
  • Hindi: मुसलधार बारिश (musaldhār bārish) ("rain like a pestle [onto a mortar]")
  • Hungarian: mintha dézsából öntenék ("like poured from a vat")
  • Icelandic: Það rignir eins og hellt sé úr fötu ("like poured from a bucket")
  • Kannada:ಮುಸಲಧಾರೆ, ಕುಂಭದ್ರೋಣ ಮಳೆ ("a stream of mallets")
  • Italian: piove a catinelle ("poured from a basin")
  • Latvian: līst kā no spaiņiem ("it's raining like from buckets")
  • Lithuanian: pila kaip iš kibiro ("it's pouring like from a bucket")
  • Malayalam: പേമാരി pemari ("mad rain")
  • Marathi: मुसळधार पाउस("rain like a pestle [onto a mortar]")
  • Nepali: मुसलधारे झरी ("rain like a pestle [onto a mortar]")
  • Norwegian: det regner trollkjerringer ("she-trolls")
  • Polish: leje jak z cebra ("like from a bucket")
  • Portuguese: chovem or está chovendo/a chover canivetes ("penknives")
  • Portuguese: chove a potes/baldes ("it is raining by the pot/bucket load")
  • Portuguese: chove a cântaros/canecos ("it is raining by the jug load")
  • Portuguese (Brazil): chovem cobras e lagartos ("snakes and lizards")
  • Portuguese (Brazil): está caindo um pau-d'água ("a stick of water is falling")
  • Portuguese (Brazil): está caindo um pé-d'água ("a foot of water is falling")
  • Romanian: plouă cu broaşte ("raining frogs")
  • Romanian: plouă cu găleata ("from a bucket")
  • Russian: льет как из ведра ("from a bucket")
  • Sinhalese: නාකපන්න වහිනවා ("it's raining cats and dogs")
  • Spanish: están lloviendo chuzos de punta ("shortpikes/icicles point first" - not only is it raining a lot, but it's so cold and windy that being hit by the drops hurts)
  • Spanish: está lloviendo a cántaros ("by the clay pot-full")
  • Spanish: llueven sapos y culebras ("toads and snakes")
  • Spanish (Argentina): caen soretes de punta ("pieces of dung head-first")
  • Spanish (Venezuela): está cayendo un palo de agua ("a stick of water is falling")
  • Spanish (Colombia): estan lloviendo maridos ("it's raining husbands")
  • Serbian: padaju sekire ("axes")
  • Swedish: Det regnar smådjävlar ("It is raining little devils")
  • Swedish: Det regnar småspik ("It is raining small nails")
  • Swedish: regnet står som spön i backen ("the rain stands like canes hitting the ground")
  • Tamil: பேய் மழை pei mazhi ("ghost rain")
  • Telugu: కుండపోత వర్షం ("pouring like an inverted pot")
  • Turkish: bardaktan boşanırcasına ("like poured from a cup")
  • Urdu: musladhār bārish ("rain like a pestle [on a mortar]")
  • Welsh: mae hi'n bwrw hen wragedd a ffyn ("old ladies and sticks")

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d "Can it rain frogs, fish or other objects". Library of Congress. August 26, 2010.
  2. ^ How can it rain fish? BBC News 20 August 2004.
  3. ^ a b When It Rains Animals: The Science of True Weather Weirdness. Alasdair Wilkins. March 21, 2012.
  4. ^ "How can it rain fish?", by Edward Green, BBC
  5. ^ Rivas, Orsy Campos (November 7, 2004). "Lo que la lluvia regala a Yoro (discusses a rain of fishes that occurs annually in Honduras)". Hablemos.
  6. ^ Comptes Rendus hebdomadaires des séances de l’Académie des sciences. 52. 1861. pp. 880–81.
  7. ^ Strange Rain: Why Fish, Frogs and Golf Balls Fall From the Skies. Sarah Zielinski, Smithsonian Magazine. 8 September 2015.
  8. ^ What is animal rain phenomenon and how is it explained?. World Weather Online. 19 August 2014.
  9. ^ When It Rains Animals: The Science of True Weather Weirdness. Alasdair Wilkins, iO9. 21 March 2012.
  10. ^ Angwin, Richard (July 15, 2003). "Wiltshire weather". BBC.
  11. ^ When Animals Rain From The Sky. Scribol.
  12. ^ "Bat-eating Supercell". National Weather Service. March 19, 2006.
  13. ^ "More than 1,000 blackbirds fall out of Arkansas sky". BBC News. 2 January 2011. Retrieved 2 January 2011.
  14. ^ "Why Are Birds Falling From the Sky?". National Geographic. 6 January 2011. Retrieved 6 January 2011.
  15. ^ "Now It's Dead Doves Falling From Sky in Italy". "AOL". 7 January 2011. Archived from the original on 9 January 2011. Retrieved 7 January 2011.
  16. ^ "FACT CHECK: Mass bird, fish deaths occur regularly". "Associated Press". 7 January 2011. Retrieved 7 January 2011.
  17. ^ McAtee, Waldo L. (May 1917). "Showers of Organic Matter" (PDF). Monthly Weather Review. 45 (5): 223. Bibcode:1917MWRv...45..217M. doi:10.1175/1520-0493(1917)45<217:soom>2.0.co;2. Retrieved 2009-01-26.
  18. ^ "Rained Fish", AP report in the Lowell (Mass.) Sun, May 16, 1900, p4
  19. ^ "Canada Day weather through the years", reported in The Weather Network : [1] Archived 2012-06-30 at the Wayback Machine, June 27, 2012
  20. ^ Greg Forbes. Spooky Weather. The Weather Channel. Posted: October 27, 2005 Archived December 10, 2009, at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/shropshire/features/halloween/raining_fish.shtml
  22. ^ Fish Rain in Kerala, India
  23. ^ "Fish Rain", reported in the India : [2], Oct 24, 2009
  24. ^ "It's raining fish in Northern Territory", reported in news.com.au : [3], February 28, 2010
  25. ^ Lani Nami Buan (January 15, 2012). "It's raining fish! It's normal". GMA News. Retrieved January 16, 2012.
  26. ^ Jereco O. Paloma (January 15, 2012). "Agusan's 'rain of fish' natural although unusual". SunStar Davao. Retrieved January 16, 2012.
  27. ^ "Fish Rain", reported in the India : [4], Sep 12, 2013
  28. ^ "Fish rain down on Sri Lanka village, reported in https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia : [5], 6 May 2014
  29. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=So3c2GSXYs0
  30. ^ Villagers wake up to find fish in fields!, The Times of India, August 17, 2015
  31. ^ "Fish rain in diredawa Ethiopia.", http://mereja.com/news/1080799
  32. ^ "Fish rain in Srikakulam district, Andhra Pradesh"., One India Telugu, May 20, 2016
  33. ^ "llovieron peces en Mexico, Tampico Tamaulipas".
  34. ^ http://www.ktvu.com/news/how-100-fish-rained-down-on-an-oroville-school-remains-a-mystery
  35. ^ https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/11/07/fish-rain-falls-on-sri-lankan-village/
  36. ^ a b Spiders Rain From Skies In Australian Town Of Goulburn, Huffington Post UK
  37. ^ "It's Raining Spiders!".
  38. ^ "Designer registra 'chuva de aranhas' em cidade do interior do Paraná". Globo.com. 8 February 2013. Retrieved 9 February 2013.
  39. ^ Demetriou, Danielle (2009-06-10). "Sky 'rains tadpoles' over Japan". Telegraph.co.uk. Retrieved 2009-08-07.
  40. ^ "Szemtanúk szerint békaeső hullott a településre". szoljon.hu. 2010-06-21. Retrieved 2010-06-21.
  41. ^ "Cómo fue que viví una lluvia de ranas y sapos" [How it was that I experienced a rain of frogs and toads] (in Spanish). Archived from the original on 2017-04-04.
  42. ^ Fort, Charles (1919). "Ch. 4". The Book of the Damned. sacred-texts.com. p. 48.
  43. ^ "Worms Fall from the Sky in Jennings". WAFB Channel 9. 7 July 2007. Retrieved 12 December 2008.
  44. ^ "青岛下"海鲜"?真实情况并不好笑". 时讯网. 14 June 2018. Retrieved 16 June 2018.
  45. ^ It's raining octopus! Sea creatures fall from the sky after being 'sucked from the ocean by a waterspout and carried into coastal city' during powerful storm in China, dailymail.co.uk, 15 June 2018
  46. ^ a b c Raining Cats and Dogs, Anatoly Liberman
  47. ^ Richard Brome (1652), The City Witt: "It shall rain dogs and polecats."
  48. ^ Robert Laurence, Raining Cats And Dogs Archived 2009-10-06 at the Wayback Machine. Accessed on 2009-07-28.
  49. ^ Raining cats and dogs at The Phrase Finder site. Accessed on 2009-07-28.
  50. ^ "The meaning and origin of the expression: Raining cats and dogs". 2017.
  51. ^ "Life in the 1500s". Snopes.com. 2007.
  52. ^ WordReference.com Language Forums, accessed on 2009-07-28.
  53. ^ It's raining cats and dogs at Omniglot.com. Accessed through Google's cache on 2009-07-28.

Further reading[edit]

  1. Bajkov, A.D. Do fish fall from the sky? Science, v. 109, April 22, 1949: 402.
  2. Bourchier, Daniel. “It’s raining fish…no really.” Sunday Territorian, Australia, Feb. 28, 2010.
  3. Branley, Franklyn M. It's raining cats and dogs: all kinds of weather and why we have it. Illustrated by True Kelley. Boston, Houghton Mifflin, 1987. 112 p. (Juvenile)
  4. Cerveny, Randall S. Freaks of the storm: from flying cows to stealing thunder, the world's strangest true weather stories. New York, Thunder's Mouth Press, c2006. 371 p.
  5. Chandler, Barb. Froggy weather. Weatherwise, v. 57, Jan./Feb. 2004: 42.
  6. Christian, Spencer and Antonia Felix. Can it really rain frogs?: the world's strangest weather events. New York, Wiley, 1997. 121 p. (Juvenile).
  7. Corliss, William. Tornados, dark days, anomalous precipitation, and related weather phenomena: a catalog of geophysical anomalies. Glen Arm, MD: Sourcebook Project, c1983. 196 p.
  8. Dennis, Jerry. It's raining frogs and fishes: four seasons of natural phenomena and oddities of the sky. New York, HarperCollins, c1992. 323 p.
  9. Englebert, Phillis. The complete weather resource. Detroit, UXL, c1997-2000. 4 v.
  10. “Frogs fall from the sky.” Herald Sun, Melbourne, Australia, June 8, 2005. p. 2.
  11. Gray, J. E. The shower of fishes. Zoologist; a monthly journal of natural history, v. 17, 1859: 6540-41
  12. Gudger, E. W. Do fish fall from the sky with rain? Scientific Monthly, v. 29, Dec. 1929: 523-527.
  13. McAtee, Waldo L. Showers of organic matter. Monthly Weather Review, v. 45, May 1917: 217-224. [6] (PDF).
  14. Posey, Carl A. The living earth book of wind and weather. Pleasantville, NY, Reader's Digest Association, c1994. 224 p.
  15. Waterspouts. In McGraw-Hill concise encyclopedia of science and technology. 5th edition. New York, McGraw-Hill, c2005. p. 2369-2370.

External links[edit]