Intended for healthcare professionals


Do animals bite more during a full moon? Retrospective observational analysis

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 23 December 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:1559

Our Ben

Battacharjee et al. think they have shown an association between the
lunar cycles and animal behaviour such that animals bite humans more round
about the time of a full moon.

The leap from their findings to their conclusions is a great one and many
factors have not been considered, measured or excluded.
What they did show was that more people attended the A and E Department
with bites (excluding human and insect) at the time of full moon. Which
animal bit these people is not stated.
How many bites occurred at home? What would it all mean if there were more
animal bites at home at the time of a new moon and hardly any at the full

Were the owners bitten or were the patients strangers?
Which animals were biting.? Chapman and Morrell (2000) showed the highest
peak for dog bite admissions in Australia to be over the New Year and no
positive relationship between the full moon and such bites.
On New Years eve we had a small party and I, after I had partaken of a few
glasses of vintage champagne, gave our dog, a ball, which flashes and
plays various alarm/siren sounds each time it bounces. It was not a full
moon and despite having a “mad half hour” he bit no one.

Chapman, S and Morrell, S. Barking mad? Another lunatic hypothesis
bites the dust Brit. Med. J. 321 (7226): 1561 2000.

Dr Richard Sloan M.B., B.S., B.Sc., Ph.D., M.R.C.G.P.

Associate Director of Postgraduate General Practice Education (Yorkshire),

Principal, General Practice

Competing interests: No competing interests

04 January 2001
Richard Sloan
Principal, General Practice
Tieve Tara Surgery, Rear of Park Dale, Airedale, Castleford, WF10 2QT