The Top 10 Loudest Animals on Earth (#1 is Amazing)

Written by Lex Basu
Updated: November 18, 2023
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Key Points:

  • The loudest animal in the world is the sperm whale, which can produce a clicking sound of up to 233 decibels. Sperm whales are also the largest toothed whales on earth and have larger brains than any other animal. Scientists believe that the sperm whale’s head acts as a giant telegraph machine.
  • The greater bulldog bat has a screech that is 100 times louder than a rock concert. The greater bulldog bat has the highest sound frequency of all bat species, but it does not carry as well through the air as those with lower frequency screeches.
  • Male howler monkeys have a deafening scream of up to 140 decibels, used to attract females or compete with other males.

Stop and think of the loudest person that you know. They are not even close to the loudest animal in the world.

While many animals count on being very quiet to surprise their prey, these animals use their loudness in extraordinary ways, such as finding another individual, defending territory, romancing a mate, or warning their companions of predators.

The average human conversation is about 50 decibels, and the human eardrum will rupture at about 200 decibels. Yet, many of these animals approach that level regularly.

This list of the loudest animals on earth has been compiled by the decibel levels they can produce.

Infographic for the 10 Loudest Animals on Earth
Sperm whales, whose clicks can reach 233 decibels, are the loudest animals on Earth.

#10. North American Bullfrog — 119 Decibels

Loudest Animals_ North American Bullfrog

The North American bullfrog has a bellowing call as loud as 119 decibels.

©Christian Ouellet/Shutterstock.com

The North American bullfrog makes several different sounds to communicate. The loudest sound, which can be about 119 decibels, is made with an open mouth while the frogs make all others with a closed mouth. This loud sound is a distressed scream. Bullfrogs will also emit low, growling sounds when caught, and they are struggling to escape.

They make a grinding sound when they are talking to each other. Male bullfrogs will make a short, sharp call when another male tries to enter its territory. The most common call from a bullfrog is the advertisement calls that males make near breeding areas. In some cases, older females may also make advertisement calls.

#9. African Cicadas — 120 Decibels

Loudest Animals: African Cicadas

African Cicadas produce sounds up to 120 decibels.

©suradech123yim/Shutterstock.com

There are more than 3,600 species of African cicadas, with more being discovered regularly. While they are all loud, the loudest may be the Green Grocer and the Yellow Monday. These insects produce sounds up to 120 decibels that carry up to 1.5 miles away.

Only male cicadas make any sound, and they do it to attract females. They are unique in the insect world because they have special parts in their abdomens, called tymbals. Cicadas use muscles throughout their bodies to contract their abdomen to produce sound.

#8. Northern Elephant Seal — 126 Decibels

Loudest Animals: Northern Elephant Seal

Elephant

Seals make sounds up to 126 decibels.

©FiledIMAGE/Shutterstock.com

Female Northern elephant seals make sounds to communicate with their pups. Young pups can be noisy when their mom is not close by, and they sense danger. The male Northern elephant seal makes the loudest sound, which can be up to 126 decibels. Researchers believe that each Northern elephant seal has its unique voice.

Furthermore, researchers believe that this is the only animal outside of humans that makes decisions based on an individual’s vocalizations. If a Northern elephant seal moves to a new rookery, they learn a whole new language as each rookery has its dialect.

While Northern elephant seals can make sounds on land and water, they are usually only really noisy while on land or nearby.

Males make the loudest sounds to warn other males that this is their territory. Then, the other male decides to challenge that male or move on to a different area depending on the sound. This is the only animal that researchers know of that can make decisions based on the sound of each individual voice, except for humans.

#7. Moluccan Cockatoo — 129 Decibels

Loudest Animals: Moluccan Cockatoo

Moluccan Cockatoos can scream up to 129 decibels.

©CG3/Shutterstock.com

Moluccan cockatoo can scream up to 129 decibels about the same level as a 747 jet. Like dogs, if you own a Moluccan cockatoo, it will scream to alert you that they sense trouble nearby. Their scream is used to alert their flock of possible danger.

They also make a ritual of calling in the morning and at night for 20-25 minutes at a time.

If you have more than one as a pet, they will often scream simultaneously, and it is usually right before bedtime.

And be careful, as their screech is powerful enough to damage human hearing if you happen to be too close!

#6. Kakapos — 132 Decibels

Loudest Animals: Kakapos

Kakapo Parrot males often make calls up to 132 decibels.

©Imogen Warren/Shutterstock.com

The kakapo is the world’s largest parrot and one of its rarest. If it was not for the work of Don Merton and others with the Kakapo Recovery Programme in New Zealand, this flightless bird might have become extinct. When researchers first discovered this bird was still alive, they found only males. Then, they found four females. With less than 84 known birds in 2000, the researchers felt that they had to act quickly.

To save the bird, they air-flighted the bird that was a favorite of weasels and ferrets to a remote island where the coast was so rugged that a boat could not dock.

They chose the remote Codfish Island, off New Zealand’s southern coast, because there were no predators on the island. As of 2020, the number of kakapos had rebounded to 211 adult birds. Saving this bird has not been an easy task as they typically only breed every 4 to 5 years and do not start until they are at least 4 years old.

Male kakapos often make calls up to 132 decibels to attract females. Once they have mated, however, they leave the female kakapos to lay one to four eggs and feed the young on their own. The flightless kakapos must secure up to 16 rimu nuts per minute to feed each nestling all night long.

During this process, which can last up to 6 months, the female often loses half of her body weight.

During the breeding season, males gather on rocks to make their loud calls, consisting of 20-to-30 sonic-like booms followed by a metallic-sounding ching. This loud pattern can continue for up to 8 hours nightly.

#5. Howler Monkey — 140 Decibels

Loudest Animals: Howler Monkey

Howler Monkeys are the loudest animal in the New World, with screams that can reach 140 decibels.

©Anton_Ivanov/Shutterstock.com

Male howler monkey screams can reach up to 140 decibels. The loudness of the monkey’s vocalizations depends on at least four different factors.

The scream will appear louder in environments where the sound echoes well. Secondly, if a female is attracted to the sound, then the male will get even louder in an attempt to get her excited.

Third, if the howler monkey is competing with other males, they will try to scream as loud as they can howl. Finally, the subspecies that howl the loudest usually use very few other ways to attract females while those who do not scream as loud use other methods.

#4. Greater Bulldog Bat — 140 Decibels

Loudest Animals: Greater Bulldog Bat

The Greater Bulldog Bats can screech up to 140 decibels.

©Dr Morley Read/Shutterstock.com

If you think of bats as quiet animals, you would be wrong in the case of the greater bulldog bat who lives in Mexico, Argentina, and some Caribbean islands. Their screech is 100 times louder than a rock concert. Different bat species screech at unique frequencies, which may help other bats tell species apart at a distance.

The greater bulldog bat has the highest sound frequency, but it does not carry as well through the air as those with lower frequency screeches.

Now, scientists are applying the knowledge they have gained from bats to make robots perform better, especially in the dark.

Scientists also believe that they have mismeasured the decibel level of bats in the past and that small bats like the greater bulldog bat, which weighs about 1.7 ounces or about the same as 10 U.S. nickels, may be much louder than previously thought.

#3. Blue Whales — 188 Decibels

Loudest Animals: Blue Whales

The Blue Whale’s call can reach 188 decibels.

©Wild_and_free_naturephoto/Shutterstock.com

The blue whale is one of the biggest animals alive, so it may not come as any surprise that it also has one of the loudest sounds.

The blue whale sounds, however, are the same frequency as many other sounds found in the oceans where it lives, including ship engines, low-frequency active sonar, and seismic air gun array explorations. While blue whales often travel thousands of miles alone, this ocean noise pollution can cause severe problems in feeding, breeding, navigation, and communication.

An interesting fact about the blue whale is that unlike humans they lack vocal cords entirely. So how do they produce their sounds?

Scientists have concluded that the probable source of sound in Blue Whales is the larynx and the nasal sacs. Although they are loud, most of the sounds they produce are below human hearing capabilities.

#2. Mantis Shrimp — 200 Decibels

Loudest Animals: Mantis Shrimp

Mantis shrimps produce a popping sound that can be up to 200 decibels.

©iStock.com/worldclassphoto

Mantis shrimp living in tropical and temperate seas have a unique claw that they can close very rapidly to catch prey. When they close the claw, it produces a loud popping sound from the formed water bubble. This sound can be up to 200 decibels. The sound scares the prey, giving them time to catch and dismantle it for their meal.

When the water bubble breaks, it also causes a natural light to shine, further distracting their prey. This is the only animal in the world that produces sound during the cavitation process. The process may also release heat that is hotter than the sun’s surface.

#1. Sperm Whale — 233 Decibels

Loudest Animals: Sperm Whale

Sperm Whales are the loudest animal on Earth, whose clicks can reach 233 decibels.

©wildestanimal/Shutterstock.com

The sperm whale, capable of producing clicking sounds up to 233 decibels, is the loudest animal in the world. That’s not the only category it leads. The sperm whale is also the largest toothed whale on earth and has a larger brain than any other animal.

Early whalers reported hearing sounds, like a hammer, whenever they had caught a sperm whale. Scientists now know that these reports are accurate, and they believe that the sperm whale’s head acts as a giant telegraph machine.

It makes these sounds by forcing air into its right nostril. The nostril runs by a series of air-filled sacs. A unique part of the whale’s body, called monkey lips, clamps shut, and the air continues to bounce off the sacs making a unique clicking sound.

Then, the sound travels through the animal’s brain, where it amplifies even louder before the sound finally leaves the whale’s body.

Sperm whales can emit at least three different types of clicks. One is used as a long-range type of sonar. The most common click is a click that sounds similar to a squeaky door and means that prey capture is imminent. The whale also has a unique cooing click that it uses when socializing with other animals.

These Loud Animals Almost Made the List

You were probably surprised by some of the loudest animals on our list – especially the shrimp! Here are four more popular candidates – including the mighty king of the jungle and the mournful howling wolf.

African Elephant – 117 decibels

Elephant trumpeting as he leaves the Chobe River in Botswana Africa

An African elephant’s trumpeting can be heard for six miles.


Image: Dennis W Donohue, Shutterstock

©Dennis W Donohue/Shutterstock.com

African elephants are intelligent and social animals that produce a wide range of vocalizations to express their emotions. Large animals like elephants have super-sized vocal cords that emit sounds when they exhale. Considering the capacity of their giant lungs – an elephant’s trumpeting is so loud that it can be heard up to six miles away!

Gray Wolf – 115 decibels

NORTH AMERICAN GREY WOLF canis lupus occidentalis, ADULT HOWLING ON ROCK, CANADA

Wolves howl for many reasons other than homage to the moon.


Image: slowmotiongli, Shutterstock

©slowmotiongli/Shutterstock.com

The sound of a wolf at night is an eerie, mournful sound romanticized as the wolf howling at the moon. In reality, wolves communicate with their pack by howling – often to alert them of danger or for location. Wolves can be heard for miles and howl in groups to announce their territory in the presence of another wolf pack. Wolf packs can be as large as 15 members so group howls can be deafening!

Hippopotamus – 114 decibels

Aggressive hippo male attacking the car. Huge hippo male intimidating the opponent. Wild animal in the nature habitat. African wildlife. This is Africa. Hippopotamus amphibius.

Hippos make sounds on land and underwater.

©PhotocechCZ/Shutterstock.com

You may not have expected a hippo to be among the loudest animals on earth – but these hulking creatures produce high-frequency grunts, honks, and groans when attacking, threatening or just talking to each other. They also use clicking sounds to navigate through water like dolphins. Hippos produce sound waves underwater to detect food and each other through echolocation. 80% of a hippo’s vocalizations take place underwater.

Lion – 114 decibels

Lion roaring with a blue sky as background

A lion’s roar can be heard for five miles.

©Henrico Muller/Shutterstock.com

Most people would expect the lion to make this list of loudest animals – and it does! Lions are the loudest cat on Earth – using their mighty roar to mark their territory and to scare intruders. How can the sound of their voice be heard five miles away? Because their vocal cords are special among all animals. A lion’s vocal cords are like parallel plates – only requiring a small amount of air to vibrate into high-frequency sound. It’s easy for a lion to roar so loudly – they don’t require a lot of lung pressure to produce these earsplitting tones. No wonder they can sound so terrifying while lying down!

Summary of the Top 10 Loudest Animals on Earth

Let’s review the animals that exhibit the most volume in the world:

RankAnimalDecibels
1Sperm Whale233
2Mantis Shrimp200
3Blue Whale188
4Greater Bulldog Bat140
5Howler Monkey140
6Kakapo132
7Moluccan Cockatoo129
8Northern Elephant Seal126
9African Cicada120
10North American Bullfrog119

What Are Some of the Quietest Animals on Earth?

On the contrary, now that you have learned about the loudest animals on Earth, what about the quietest animals around the world? These silent creatures live among us without making any noise.

Here are some of the quietest animals on Earth:

  1. Sloths: Sloths are known for their slow movements and quiet nature, making them one of the quietest animals on earth.
  2. Sea Otters: Sea otters are known for their soft, purring noises when they are resting or grooming themselves.
  3. Octopuses: Octopuses are quiet creatures that communicate through body language and color changes, making very little noise.
  4. Snails: Snails are known for their slow, silent movement and lack of vocalizations.
  5. Koalas: Koalas are known for their sleepy and peaceful nature and make very few vocalizations, mostly when they are in danger.
  6. Bats: While bats are active at night and make some noise when they fly, they are generally quiet animals and communicate through echolocation.

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Martin Prochazkacz/Shutterstock.com


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About the Author

Lex is a green-living, tree-hugging, animal-lover, who at one time was the mother to twenty one felines and one doggo. Now she helps pet owners around the globe be the best caretakers for their most trusting companions by sharing her experience and spreading love.

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