Life's Little Mysteries

Do Animals Have ESP?

(Image credit: Kristian Sekulic |

In the ancient world, old, humpbacked men with canes divined predictions of the future. Then came the age of fortune telling - the madames with their crystal balls and palm readings. Since then, there have been many methods of divination: tarot cards, magic 8-balls, and even people who simply claim they have a "sixth sense," or ESP (extra-sensory perception ).

But who is now claiming to be the prediction guru? Your pet.

Well, actually, they aren't claiming it dogs can't talk, after all but many people are convinced of the power of recent animal psychics.

This Oscar season, you may want to align your picks with Heidi, the cross-eyed opossum from Germany this season. At first, she was only a media sensation because of her unique ocular appearance, but now, Germans (and everyone else) are hoping that she will give predictions for the Oscar winners. She will be presenting her Academy Award choices on January 27 as part of the Jimmy Kimmel pre-show.

Although Heidi still has to prove herself, the psychic phenomena goes beyond just one furry friend. The other well-known animal sage, although not furry at all, was Paul the Psychic Octopus, who correctly predicted the outcomes of eight straight World Cup matches by swimming toward an icon of the team he predicted would win although many had doubted him. Sadly, Paul died shortly after displaying his amazing pre-cognitive abilities.

Despite the past success of Paul the Octopus, and perhaps the future success of Heidi the opossum, no one has really proven the existence of animal ESP. Many experts, however, believe it is extremely possible or at least that animals can pick up on signs that humans miss and turn this information into behavior that seems predictive to us.

"On a certain level, the answer depends on what you mean by extra-sensory abilities," said Steven Kotler author of "A Small Furry Prayer: Dog Rescue and the Meaning of Life" and expert in dog behavior. "We know that animals possess several extra senses, including altered vision and hearing, echolocation, electric and/or magnetic field detection, and supplementary chemical detection senses."

"A great many animals also possess a 'sense of direction' that seems to exceed human capabilities," Kotler said. This could help explain how pets sometimes display psychic abilities leading up to an emergency. Reports of pets' bravery in fires, carbon monoxide leaks, and natural disasters are prevalent pet owners claims that birds have been observed hiding their heads under their wings prior to an earthquake. One story shows that a dog would not let its owner go out to sea, although it was a beautiful day; hours later, a hurricane hit the area. People have also claimed that their pets have even been able to sense illness in their owners.

"As far as precognition, the anecdotal evidence is pretty overwhelming," said Kotler.

Scientists continue to experiment to find merit to the claim of animal ESP. British biologist Rupert Sheldrake has written several books on the animal studies he has conducted that suggest that animals have telepathic abilities - especially in the cases of pets, as they can start to mimic the actions of their owners, which increases their intelligence.

It's obvious that there is something unique going on in with the brain frequencies of animals. It's your choice to believe in them or not, but might not hurt to listen to your pet once in a while - your life could depend on it.

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