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Sounds of Animals: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Suzanne Rose

Suzanne has taught all levels PK-graduate school and has a PhD in Instructional Systems Design. She currently teachers literacy courses to preservice and inservice teachers.

While people might be the only animals that actually 'talk,' other animals make many different sounds. In this lesson, you'll learn about both unusual and typical sounds made by animals.

What's That Noise?

Have you ever been outside at night and heard an animal barking? Sometimes it's easy to tell what animal you are hearing, but other times it's not so simple. Most animals make more than one sound, and many animals make the same sounds made by others. That animal might not be a dog; it could be a fox!

While red foxes mostly bark, they can actually make over 20 different sounds. Research has shown that each red fox has its own slightly different pattern of barks and spaces between barks, which allows them to identify each other just by their sound!

A red fox makes over 20 sounds.
redfox

Many birds mimic, or copy, the sounds they hear. The mockingbird mimics the sounds made by many other birds. Lyrebirds are known for mimicking just about any sound that they hear, including the whirring sound made by a camera, car alarms, chainsaws, and even toy guns!

Unusual Animal Sounds

Some animals make very odd sounds that you wouldn't expect. Desert rain frogs sound like squeaky toys that you might give to your dog. Porcupines make a humming noise that sounds as if they're playing kazoos! Although most large cats roar and growl, the cheetah chirps!

The fluffy brushtail possum from New Zealand sounds like it's laughing. And although the Basenji dog can't bark, it does make another noise. It yodels!

The Basenji yodels.
basenji

If you are out in the woods and hear a hiccup sound, you might have heard a bird called the American woodcock. Another strange noise is made by the male ostrich. They have a sac, or pouch, in their necks that they can fill with air. This helps them make a booming noise that sounds hollow and very low. They use this noise to attract female ostriches.

Walruses make several noises, such as growls, grunts, and bellows, and they also have a sac. Instead of booming like an ostrich, the walrus uses this sac to whistle! Frogs are another animal that often use a sac to make sounds.

Spring peeper frog with inflated sac.
peeper

Animal Sound Vocabulary

We use many words to describe the sounds made by animals. Birds can cackle, caw, cheep, chirrup, cluck, coo, crow, gobble, hoot, quack, twitter, tweet, and whistle!

Here are some other words that we use to describe animal sounds along with a list of some of the animals that are known to make those noises.

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