FULL MOONS have long been associated with werewolves, vampires and witchcraft, but now the RSPCA says they could also be linked to a rise in animal abuse.
The charity has released statistics showing a correlation between an increase in reports of abuse and the lunar cycle.
The RSPCA has found an average increase in calls so far this year of around 12%, or 169 reports, when there has been a full moon.
The highest number of calls during a full moon happened in April, when it received 339 more calls - a spike of more than 28% than the day before.
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RSPCA staff officer Dermot Murphy said: “We can’t explain why this phenomenon occurs, although there are anecdotal reports from emergency services that they also see an increase.
“It could be the fact there is increased light during the full moon so people out and about are more likely to spot an animal in distress, or the legend is true and it really does bring out the darker side of human nature.”
The link between full moons and extremes in human behaviour has been identified in past scientific studies.
Professor Michal Zimecki, of the Polish Academy of Sciences, analysed dozens of studies that take lunar activity into account, and argued that a full moon could affect criminal activity and health.
One such piece of research, a three-month psychological study of 1,200 inmates at Armley jail, Leeds, in the 1990s, found a marked increase in violent incidents during the first and last quarter of each lunar month.
Full moons have also been linked to the timing of baby births, with some suggesting that the moon’s gravitational pull affects the amniotic fluid in the same way it affects the water in the sea and rivers.
Maternity wards are said to be busier during a full moon, although there is debate in the medical world about whether the moon does encourage women to go into labour.
The RSPCA released its figures on Halloween to highlight how “overwhelmed” the charity has been with calls this year, with one every 30 seconds.
Officials say they are bracing themselves to take more than 140,000 more reports of animal abuse, abandonment and neglect in the run up to Christmas.
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