Finally, a reason to have snakes around that I can get behind! The legend dates back to the first account of such behavior in 373 B.C.E., when snakes and a number of other creatures are said to have hit the proverbial highway several days before a major earthquake that decimated the city of Helice in Greece [source: Lombardi]. But do snakes really have earthquake-predictive powers?
The first thing to know is that earthquakes happen every day – it's just that most of the time they're so small, no one notices. Although the legendary Ring of Fire (the rim of the Pacific Ocean pockmarked by tons of volcanos) produces a significant number of quakes, no area of the world is exempt from such an event [source: USGS].
In the centuries since Helice, snake enthusiasts have continued to document movement patterns as they relate to earthquakes, although little hard evidence has been supplied. Scientists do acknowledge that serpents and other animals can sense earthquakes a few seconds before people do because they are better able to feel the initial wave. The area that remains murky, however, is whether animals can detect a quake days in advance of eruption. Are animals able to feel the ground tilting or electrical or magnetic field variations? As of now, scientists don't know [source: USGS].