This site talks about it at some length, but it seems inconclusive.
Can Animals Predict Earthquakes? Article #603 - Alaska Science Forum, April 21, 1983 -----> http://www.gi.alaska.edu/ScienceForum/ASF6/603.html
Can Animals Sense Earthquakes? -----> http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2003/11/1111_031111_earthquakeanimals.html
Looking at those cites, there are factors to consider.
- Migrating animals with the ability to sense magnetic fields may perceive changes (but most of the animals cited don’t migrate).
- Selection: if your dog won’t stop barking and you evacuate the house as an earthquake precaution, you sure won’t report it to anyone unless an earthquake happened. This is also the case with other animal behavioral changes.
- There are often foreshocks, from imperceptible on up. A parallel case might be the case of an old rickety building creaking and beginning to shift before it falls down.
- As the tectonic plates are about to slip, there appear to be conditions: the fault is starting to give, and some of the deep geology is deforming, resulting perhaps in piezoelectric effects from the crystals in granite for instance.
- Before a quake, water levels in wells and flow of springs have been observed to rise or fall off, possibly due to the deep deforming mentioned in 4).
- The Chinese forecast at least one 7.3-magnitude quake (that’s big), apparently by combining observations of water-level changes with animal behavior and, guess what, increase in minor tremors.
The USGS didn’t say that animals don’t forecast quakes, they say that such changes in behavior aren’t reliable warnings. They are impractical to use.
There is, however, one nice clearcut warning factor in our current civilization that appeared in the 1989 Loma Prieta quake. In San Francisco, about 50 miles north of the epicenter, car alarms all went off at once, briefly before the shaking arrived. The mechanism would be that the P-waves (the sharp brief jolt transmitted through bedrock) arrived before the S-waves (the surface north-south-north-south movement) came to do the damage. This observation is by people who were in a parking lot at the time.
I could not find out if the lead time was 10 or 30 or 45 seconds before the quake, but it was somewhere in there. The USGS could tell you. Unfortunately the closer to the epicenter, the fewer seconds’ warning.
I think they can. Before a quake, my dogs act weird, my cats go into their hiding places, and the ants go absolutely nuts.
What’s your location?
For how many quakes have your observations been made, and did all three species do this in 100% of them?
How much time occured between the behavior and the quake?
Is there a correlation between the intensity of behavior and the size of the
quake, or the lead time before the quake?
What specifically is the behavior when a dog acts wierd?
How can you tell when an ant goes absolutely nuts?
Is your post on the level?
See Does subsonic sound cause acute anxiety? for possible inferences…