From construction projects to busy roads, airplanes and trains, human noise is everywhere. It is an invisible cause of stress that poses serious risks to human health and well-being. However, noise also harms animals that live in close contact with people in households, farms and zoos.
Noise is a distracting, frightening, or physically painful sound. The effects of noise on people range from mild irritation to learning and memory problems to permanent hearing damage and heart disease.
Abnormally loud noises, such as B. at music concerts or construction sites, are controlled to protect human hearing. For other animals, however, the noise is not regulated.
In our recent article, we found that there is a need for greater awareness and understanding of how noise harms pets, livestock, livestock, and zoo animals.
Research tends to measure the loudness of a sound in decibels (dB). Decibels are easily measured with a handheld device and form the basis of human health guidelines. But the type of noise source, frequency (pitch), rate, and duration can also affect how sounds are perceived by a listener.
Great apes have hearing abilities similar to humans, but the rest of the animal world perceives sounds very differently.
Hearing ranges from very high frequency ultrasonic (>20,000 Hz) echolocation in bats and dolphins to very low frequency infrasound (. The human hearing range is directly between ultrasonic and infrasound.
Some invertebrates, such as hunting spiders, detect sounds from vibrations with their tiny leg hairs. It’s difficult to tell how sensitive an animal is to noise, but what matters most is whether sounds in its environment are within its earshot, not whether the animal is of high or low frequency.
Table of Contents
what we know
Due to a lack of research, we don’t know that much about exactly how noise affects animals, but that’s what we’ve learned so far.
Loud noise can permanently damage the hearing of laboratory rodents. We can assume that this exposure is painful because rats exposed to loud noise behave differently with and without painkillers.
Results from laboratory studies in rodents can be extrapolated to other mammals, but there are known differences in hearing between different animals.
Wildlife suffer from chronic stress, fertility issues, and change migration routes in response to noise. Confined animals are often exposed to high levels of man-made noise from which they cannot escape.
Research shows that noise causes pain, anxiety and cognitive problems in caged animals. For example, in fish, vibration from extreme noise can damage the swim bladder, which in turn affects hearing and buoyancy. Pain and anxiety are strong indicators of poor well-being.
Inaudible sounds (vibrations) can also injure animals by physically shaking their internal body parts. Livestock are exposed to strong vibrations during transport. Our research group at Anglia Ruskin University is investigating whether vibration from construction work affects zooprimates.
A loud event like a local music festival or extreme weather can trigger long-term anxiety in animals. The link between noise and fear has been well studied in dogs using recordings of thunderstorms.
This sensitivity to noise, which affects up to 50 percent of domestic dogs, is triggered by unexpected noises. It makes animals hide or seek human comfort. Livestock chickens also freeze in fear when exposed to vehicle noise and even music.
Primates, birds, and frogs can temporarily adapt to noisy environments by vocalizing louder, much like how we raise our voices at loud parties. But the long-term consequences of animals having to change their communication methods have not been studied.
Long-term exposure to loud noise reduces learning and memory in laboratory mice. The link between cognition and fear in humans is complex, but in general, high levels of fear decrease our ability to perform challenging tasks.
This could be similar in other mammals, but there isn’t enough research to be sure. Studying noise in zoos is difficult because other factors such as weather and visitor presence are difficult to control.
how to help
If your pet is stressed by noise, a number of treatments are available to calm or distract them, including synthetic pheromones and activity toys. But prevention is better than cure.
When caring for caged animals, pay close attention to human activities that generate noise (such as cleaning and gardening) and how the environment can reflect sound waves. Sound waves can be blocked and bounced off materials like concrete, metal, and glass, making the noise worse.
You can protect your pets during noisy events like thunderstorms and fireworks by providing extra spaces to avoid noise.
Some soft furnishings like pillows or blankets in a cave will help absorb sound. A pile of blankets that you can crawl under without a cave will help block out noise.
Better regulation is needed to protect animals from construction work and noise events. Animals don’t have a say in construction projects or music concerts, but they can suffer the consequences.
Fay Clark, Research Fellow in Life Sciences, Anglia Ruskin University, and Jacob Dunn, Associate Professor of Evolutionary Biology, Anglia Ruskin University
This article was republished by The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.