Sep 18

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

Photo of a male southern elephant seal displaying

Southern elephant seal bull displaying

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.

American alligator

Photo of a male American alligator bellowing

Male American alligator bellowing

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

Photo of Cassini periodical cicadas climbing tree trunk

Cassini periodical cicadas climbing tree trunk

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!

Three-wattled bellbird

Photo of a male three-wattled bellbird calling

Male three-wattled bellbird calling

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.

Lion

Photo of African lion roaring

Male African lion roaring

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!

Kakapo

Photo of kakapo walking

Kakapo walking

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.

African elephant

Photo of African elephant herd alert

African elephant herd, alert

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

Photo of male mantled howler monkey howling

Male mantled howler monkey howling

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

Photo of greater bulldog bat

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!

Blue whale

Photo of blue whale

Blue whale

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

  • Michelle M (September 18th, 2011 at 4:55 pm):

    Bird photographers will attest to the fact that the loudest animals on the planet are human beings. You can hear them tromping from at least a quarter mile away, loudly talking about nothing at all–most of them shout rather than talk. Their vehicles are usually louder than they are and disturb animals for miles.

  • Carly (September 19th, 2011 at 1:20 pm):

    Did you know that the Kakapo is one of the rarest (there are only 131 left) parrots in the world?
    It’s flightless,
    It’s the world’s heaviest parrot,
    It’s possibly the oldest living bird, and
    It has a subsonic mating boom that can travel several kilometres.
    I think the Kakapo deserves the title of Loudest Animal.

  • Becky (September 19th, 2011 at 1:27 pm):

    Go go the Kakapo!

  • nana marinou (September 19th, 2011 at 2:47 pm):

    I like all the videos and photographs of animals that you publish!

  • nana marinou (September 19th, 2011 at 2:51 pm):

    that is my opinion

  • nana marinou (September 19th, 2011 at 2:55 pm):

    lions

  • Doug Norris (September 22nd, 2011 at 5:35 am):

    Michelle M,
    couldn’t agree with you more. I think that the most effective attractor of noisy humans is the video camera. It’s amazing how often a chatter box makes an appearance when I am videoing rare species.

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