The animal kingdom is full of diverse creatures that differ greatly from head to tail. But it’s not just physical traits that set them apart—their voices are just as distinct. From sending warnings to predators and finding mates, to communicating with others, animals rely on their various calls for many different reasons. And some of their voices are much louder than others.
In our new Top 5 Loudest Animals series, we’ll look at the distinct calls of various groups of animals, starting with land mammals.
5. Wolves: Louder together
Wolves use their distinctive howl to either mark their territory or call out to other members of their pack. While a single wolf’s howl can reach up to 90 decibels (dB), when the wolf pack howls together, their collective volume can reach 114dB.
4. Lions: Long distance communicators
Lions can produce a wide range of sounds, from purrs to growls to roars, each with a different purpose, like strengthening social bonds or warning other lions to stay away. But it’s their distinctive roars that are the loudest, reaching 114 dB and heard up to five miles away.
3. Elephants: A sound for every occasion
Elephants have even more vocalizations, including rumbles, snorts, barks, cries, trumpets, and roars. These highly intelligent animals use their sounds to communicate throughout the herd and help each other avoid danger. Their low-frequency rumbles can make your body vibrate if you’re close enough, and their loudest vocalizations can be up to 117 dB.
2. Howler monkeys: The name says it all
Named for their distinct loud call, howler monkeys rely on their howls to communicate through their dense rainforest homes. Their howls fall between 128 and 140 dB, and this high volume is a result of howler monkeys having an enlarged hyoid—a bone in the neck that enables tongue and throat movement.
1. Bulldog bats: The loudest animals you can’t hear
The loudest members of the bat family, the greater bulldog bat uses its echolocation calls to detect fish underwater. These calls can reach 140 dB, a level that should be damaging to human’s ears. However, a bulldog bat’s sounds are high-frequency and ultrasonic, meaning they are (thankfully) beyond the range of human hearing.
As you can see, the animal kingdom is full of loud voices, and this is only a small sampling. Stay tuned for future posts exploring the loudest animals under the sea and the loudest insects! In the meantime, make sure you’re able to hear even the quietest creatures by getting your hearing tested.