The animal kingdom is bustling with chirps, cries, howls, roars, yelps and shrieks. We’ve managed to track down some of the rowdiest of the bunch, so please make some noise for ARKive’s Top 10 Loudest Animals.
Southern elephant seal
The male southern elephant seal has a large inflatable proboscis, which it uses to produce an explosive, resounding roar. The vocalisations are commonly heard during the mating season, when bulls intimidate rivals to win groups of females.
Check out these southern elephant seals displaying and fighting on ARKive.
Although the American alligator lacks vocal chords, this doesn’t stop it producing deep, throaty bellows. A bellowing alligator can incite others to join in, forming a bellowing chorus. Bellows can reach 90 decibels and are thought to attract a female mate or threaten nearby males.
Watch this male American alligator bellowing on ARKive.
Cassini periodical cicada
For such a small critter, the male Cassini periodical cicada is surprisingly noisy – but it has a good reason, after being stuck underground for 17 years! Males announce their arrival with a high frequency courtship song to attract a mate. Females are silent, but a chorus of males can reach up to 100 decibels!
With one of the loudest bird calls, the three-wattled bellbird certainly wants to show off its song – after all, it may have been practising for 7 years! Males call out to prospective females from a clearing at the top of a tree. The song is made up of chattering and a few, thunderous ‘bong’ notes, peaking at 100 decibels and travelling more than 1 kilometre through the forest.
There’s a great video of the male three-wattled bellbird calling on ARKive.
The lion has a very large voicebox, or larynx, supported by a stretchy ligament, which creates an extra-large airway. Its remarkable roar reaches 114 decibels and can be heard up to 5 kilometres away!
The male kakapo creates an amplification bowl in the ground, which it sits inside before releasing powerful ‘booms’ to attract females. Males use their inflatable throat sacs to create the low frequency ‘boom’, which is thought to be one of the most far-carrying bird songs, travelling a staggering 5 kilometres! The amazing kakapo ‘boom’ call can be seen on ARKive.
Producing piercing trumpets when threatened, alarmed, or excited, the African elephant can communicate over long distances, up to an impressive 9 kilometres! Its trunk amplifies sound and it often uses deep growls, rumbles or purrs, and many of these are too low for us to hear.
Mantled howler monkey
The aptly named mantled howler monkey produces distinctive howls and is one of the loudest mammals in the world. The hyoid bone at the top of its windpipe reverberates its roars and growls. Troops of mantled howler monkeys howl at dawn and dusk and have been compared to the sound of a raucous crowd. A howling troop can be heard over 2 kilometres away!
Greater bulldog bat
The greater bulldog bat’s high frequency screech is thought to reach 140 decibels – that’s 100 times louder than a rock gig! The intensity of its call has been likened to sitting on an airport runway!
Blowing the competition out of the water is the largest animal to have ever lived, the blue whale. Its long calls range from a staggering 155 to 188 decibels and it has been clearly detected as far as 3,000 kilometres away! The blue whale’s low frequency moans typically last for 20 seconds, and are thought to have a range of functions, such as prey detection, communication and sensing the environment.
Do you have a favourite loud species on ARKive? Let us know using the comments below.
Rebecca Goatman, ARKive Media Researcher