Fascinating Elephant Sounds | Why do Elephants Make Noises?

August 2, 2021

Elephants are one of the world’s most majestic animals. They are the largest land animals and are known for their massive ears (Dumbo uses them to fly), trunks, ivory tusks, and their phenomenal memory.

There are three species of elephants on earth. There is the African savannah elephant, the African forest elephant, and the smaller Asian elephants. The main difference between the African and smaller Asian elephants is the size and shape of their ears.

African elephants have much larger ears that are shaped similarly to the African continent. The Asian elephants have much smaller ears that are shaped like India.

When you think of elephant sounds, their trumpeting comes to mind but what other sounds do they make? If you want to know more besides the sounds they make then take a look at how they sleep as well to learn more.

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Elephant Noise Name

Elephant noises are divided into categories. “Call types” can be divided into two broad groups. These classifications are based on how the sound is produced.

The first category is laryngeal calls when the sound is produced in the throat by the larynx. The second category is trunk calls when air is forced down their trunk.

Laryngeals calls are:

  • Rumbles
  • Cries
  • Barks
  • Roars
  • Grunts

Trunk Calls are:

  • Trumpeting
  • Snorts
  • Nasal-trumpeting

Psst…The best place for listening to the curious sounds of the ellies is in Addo Elephant Park in South Africa!

What Noise Do Elephants Make?

These gentle giants are known to have complex animal sounds with a compilation of noises and calls. These incredible elephant communication sounds include low-frequency rumbles, grunts, cries, trumpets, snorts, and other vocalizations. They have also joined primates, monkeys, and bats, in being one of the few land animals that can imitate other sounds.

Studies have shown that elephants can even imitate the sounds of traffic. Learning about the imitation sounds that these animals make is important in the study of their complex social behavior.

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The Meaning Of An Elephant Sound Effect

An elephant noise can have a variety of meanings. Elephant vocalizations are made as warning signs. They communicate with fellow herd members where they want to go, to call out to one another if they are separated over long distances, during mating, and many other instances.

The two most common sounds are their rumbling and trumpeting. Each of these sounds are used in a variety of different instances to suit every situation that may occur.

Elephant Trumpet Meaning

What does it mean when an elephant trumpets? An elephant trumpet, the most famous of the elephant sound effects, is used for a multitude of reasons. Elephant trumpeting is done by pushing air down and through their unique trunks.

The aggressive trumpeting noises can be emitted as a warning signal to both each other as well as threatening predators within the elephants territory.

These often make trumpeting sounds by voicing playfulness, when they are having fun social interactions with each other and humans. Not something that you will see at your local zoo anytime soon. But you can at this guided walking tour at an elephant sanctuary that offers an interactive experience with these free-roaming creatures.

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Why Do Elephants Rumble?

Their rumbles and other low-frequency sounds are used to communicate frequently and for many reasons. These mammals use their ears and bodies along with sounds to communicate their needs and wants to fellow herd members. These rumbles are sent across the landscape that other elephants can feel with their feet. But, just what kind of sounds do they make when they rumble?

“Let’s Go” Elephant Rumble

These elephant rumbles are used to communicate with the rest of the herd when they would like to travel in a certain direction. Unlike most mammals in the animal kingdom, their herds are led by the females. Males live alone, although they can group together with other males at times.

The “let’s go” rumble, often done by females, are low frequency rumbles which are gentle and can be used while it is pointing its body in the direction it wants to go. Elephants can agree or disagree and seemingly ‘discuss’ the desires of what they would like to do next and let the herd decide. A quick afternoon safari is a good way to hear these rumbles as they move across the plains but you have a limited amount of free time.

Elephant Greeting-Rumble

Rumbles are also used when families reunite. The greeting-rumble is vocalized while they flap their ears energetically and touch each other with their trunks and tusks. When they do meet, they may become so highly stimulated, similarly to dogs, they can sometimes urinate or defecate.

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Elephant Mating Rumble

One of the most powerful rumbles an elephant makes is during mating. The period during which males have a surge in reproductive hormones is called ‘musth’. The bulls of the herd become extremely aggressive and make musth-rumbles.

The female’s fertile hormonal period is much shorter than the males. Females make powerful estrous-rumbles to attract high-ranking males for mating. These males are often a fair distance away and the herd of females will join in unison. This chorus of rumbles can be heard from impressive distances.

Cooing-Rumble

Mothers and adolescent females will make coo-rumbles at low frequencies, getting as low as 20 hertz, to comfort their babies when they are in distress. They also soothe their young by touching the young one’s mouth and belly. This soft and low sound is a result of their vocal folds being so large but they are actually singing just as humans do to their children.

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Baby Elephant Sounds

Baby elephant noises are like human babies, they cry when they are hungry for their mother’s milk. The begging-rumble will cause the mother to stop, lift her trunk, and allow the baby elephant to suckle.

When calves are denied suckling they combine a cry with their rumbling sounds. If this doesn’t work, the characteristic baby elephant sound of rumbling will continue until it becomes an elephant roar. This is effectively as close to a baby elephant trumpeting as it will get.

How to Experience the Sound Of An Elephant

Observing elephants in the wild to discover an elephant making noise is definitely the preferred way to experience their vocalizations. An African safari is a very special experience where you can go to the Kruger National Park and take a safari at sunrise or sunset to find animals and view them in their natural habitat.

There are some things in this world that bring out emotions of amazement, fear, and sheer excitement all at once. Experiencing an elephant trumpet sound in close proximity in their natural landscape is one of those things. Sure, you could go to a zoo but heading to the Kruger and seeing all the animals in the park along with elephants is something to behold.

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Will You Answer The Elephant Call?

Elephants are a part of the Big Five, along with the lion, leopard, water buffalo, and rhinoceros. A prestigious title that they rightfully deserve to hold. These are incredible creatures who are emotional beings. They mourn their fallen family members, celebrate their reunions, play, and have fun with each other.

Observing some large African elephants in their natural habitat, on a full-day African safari, is spectacular and is the best way to hear wild elephant calls and their gentle nature. Why not take a trip and see?

Elephants feel like they carry deep wisdom and majesty with them. Their slow heavy movements, bellowing vocalizations, and sounds can put anyone who observes them into a trance of wonderment. These are some of the greatest creatures on earth and by appreciating their noises and communication, we, in turn, appreciate them.

 

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