As the biggest reptile on earth and a faraway cousin of the dinosaur, there is so much that’s interesting about crocodiles. These toothy wonders are widespread, long-living, and known for eerily lurking in the shallow waters, ready to snap should the opportunity arise.
They are infinitely fascinating, and there is still plenty unknown about these animals in general.
Because they’re not exactly cuddly, crocodiles tend to get a bit of a bad rap. However, so much about them is intricately designed for survival, from how they swim, to how they feed, to how they camouflage themselves in rivers and lakes.
As I’m sure you can tell, I’ve spent a lot of time researching these intimidating beasts.
Recently, it dawned on me that there was a question in my mind that remained unanswered. I know quite a bit about these animals, except for this one thing: what sound does a crocodile make?
What does it mean when crocodiles vocalize, and how are they able to form such strange and unique sounds? In this post, I’ll take you through the answer to this puzzle in detail. Read on to find out more.
What Sound Does A Crocodile Make?
Crocodiles are the most vocal of all the reptiles and emit a range of different sounds to communicate with one another and ward off predators. The sounds they make include roars, grunts, growls, bellows, barks, chirps, and hisses.
Each sound can differ in volume and frequency, depending on the situation they’re in. The sounds they make are also impacted by their age and gender.
Like humans and other animals, crocodiles vocalize to express emotions, like fear or pain, to attract mates, or when they feel threatened.
Don’t approach a vocal croc in any circumstances. Different sounds mean different things, and while they may all sound quite similar (read: scary), their varying tones can tell us a lot about what’s going on with them.
For example, adult crocodiles greet each other by roaring, and they will also roar to indicate dominance over their prey.
Another sound they make, called bellowing, is the vocalization most commonly associated with extreme anger or pain. It is a hollow, guttural sound sure to make the hair on the back of your neck stand on end.
Juvenile crocs love to chirp and grunt when they socialize, bask, or feed.
Do Crocodiles Bark?
Crocodiles do not bark in the same way that dogs bark, but they can form a vocalization that sounds relatively similar. This barking sound is created by the passage of air through the vocal folds in their throats.
Generally speaking, baby or juvenile crocs make this sound (also called squeaking) to communicate with each other and with their mothers, but it has been observed in older crocodiles too.
Before baby crocodiles have even hatched from their eggs, they start making high-pitched vocalizations that sound a bit like video game laser beams, but which are referred to as barks or grunts.
This lets their moms know they’re ready to enter the world and is a habit they hang onto for years, sometimes into adulthood. As they get older and bigger, the tone of their vocalizations deepens, making their child-like squeaks sound more like barks.
Crocodiles’ vocal cords, also known as vocal folds, expand and contract in tandem with airflow to help them form different sounds.
Air can enter their throats through either the mouth or the nose, making it entirely possible for crocs to grunt or bark without even opening their mouth. Crocodile barking is less associated with apprehension and threat and is more commonly used to express curiosity or socialize.
Do Crocodiles Hiss And Growl?
Crocodiles hiss and growl when they are fighting, feel threatened, or when they’re trying to assert their dominance. The growling sound they make is comparable to that of a dog, just lower and with greater reverberation, making it far scarier.
They are also famous for the hissing noise they make, especially when they’re warning off potential threats. Crocs will both hiss and growl when searching for a mate, too.
It’s strange to think of a giant reptile growling, but once you’ve heard it, it’s difficult to forget. The sound is very similar to a bellow and is designed to ward off potential predators or simply to indicate that they are in a bad mood and don’t want to be approached.
When it comes to mating season, a growl will also be used to tell other gentlemen crocs to back off from a particular lady. A well-times growl is enough to send even the bravest competitors scuttling.
Hissing, which is one of the more unusual sounds crocodiles make, is usually the vocalization they make when fighting or preempting an altercation of some sort.
They can achieve this sound by sucking air into their lungs and blowing it out in a slow, low, and controlled manner. Hissing is defensive and territorial and should definitely be perceived as a warning that something or someone is too close to them.
Hissing is also one of the ways in which crocs state their intentions to potential mating partners.
In answer to the question “what sound does a crocodile make?” I’ve learned that these interesting animals can make a whole range of sounds depending on their mood and what they need to express. For crocodiles, vocalization is an integral part of their survival. They use sound to express fear or frustration, to socialize, attract mates, and ward off threats. Indeed, a crucial part of a croc’s life is its relationship to other crocs in its congregation, and “talking” among each other plays a big role in this. When it comes to the noises crocs make, our default instinct may be terror, but from a safe, observatory stance, it’s quite amazing to think about how advanced their communication skills are. That being said, always keep your distance from crocs, even if they seem tranquil and safe. They’re wild animals and should be treated as such.