Fascinating Elephant Sounds And What They Mean

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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 Asian elephant. The main difference between the African and Asian species 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.

Observing elephants in their natural habitat, on safari, is spectacular and is the best way to experience their varied sounds and gentle nature.

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 the elephant’s 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 Does An Elephant Make?

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Elephants are known to have a complex compilation of noises and calls. These noises include low-frequency rumbles, grunts, cries, trumpets, snorts, and barks. Elephants have also joined primates, monkeys, and bats, in being one of the few land animals that can imitate 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.

The Meaning Of An Elephant Sound Effect

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

The two most common elephant sounds are to trumpet and to rumble. Each of these sounds are used in a variety of different instances.

Why Do Elephants Trumpet?

An elephant trumpet, the most famous of the elephant sound effects, is used for a multitude of reasons. Elephant trumpeting is done when the elephant pushes air down and through its trunk.

The elephant trumpeting sound can be emitted as a warning signal to both each other as well as threatening predators.

Elephants are very playful creatures and often make trumpeting sounds when they are having fun social interactions with each other and humans.

Why Do Elephants Rumble?

Elephants use rumbles frequently and for many reasons. Elephants use their ears and bodies along with sounds to communicate their needs and wants.

“Let’s Go” Elephant Rumble

Elephants rumble to communicate with the rest of the herd when they would like to travel in a certain direction. Unlike a lot of the animal kingdom, elephant herds are lead by the female elephants. Male elephants live alone, although they can group together with other males at times.

The “let’s go” rumble, often done by females, is low and gentle and can be used while the elephant 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.

Elephant Greeting-Rumble

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Rumbles are also used when elephant families re-unite. The greeting-rumble is vocalized while the elephants flap their ears energetically and touch each other with their trunks and tusks. Elephants get so excited when they meet that, similarly to dogs, they can sometimes urinate or defecate.

Elephant Mating Rumble

One of the most powerful rumbles an elephant makes is during mating. The period during which male elephants have a surge in reproductive hormones is called ‘musth’. The bull elephants 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 female elephants will join in unison. This chorus of rumbles can be heard from impressive distances.


Mothers and adolescent females will do coo-rumbles to comfort baby elephants when they are in distress. They also soothe their young by touching the young’s mouth and belly.

Baby Elephant Sounds

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Baby elephants, like human babies, 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 rumble. If this doesn’t work, the calf will cry-rumble until it becomes an elephant roar.

Where To Listen To An Elephant Sound mp3

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Observing elephants in the wild to discover an elephant making noise is definitely the preferred way to experience their vocalizations. Safaris are a very special experience where you can do game drives at sunrise or sunset to find animals and view them in their natural habitat.

However, you can also hear the sound an elephant makes online. Free Sound Effects offers a long list of mp3 files for the sound of an elephant.

Youtube also offers a variety of videos of elephants making noise. From educational videos, to sound only videos, Youtube has plenty of free elephant sounds.

Closing Thoughts On Elephants And Their Interesting Sounds

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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. Elephants are incredible creatures who are emotional beings. They mourn their fallen family members, celebrate their reunions, and play and have fun with each other.

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

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