Meet the Noise Makers: The 12 Loudest Animals on Earth

Imagine standing miles away and still hearing a call loud and clear—this is the reality in the wild! From deep-sea giants to forest dwellers, some animals make sounds so powerful they can travel incredible distances.

Why do they need to be so loud? Let’s rank some of the world’s loudest animals, shedding light on how and why they produce such powerful sounds.

1. Sperm Whale

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Image Credit: Martin Prochazkacz/Shutterstock.

Peak Decibels: Up to 230 dB ¹

The sperm whale is the loudest animal on Earth. These marine giants use echolocation clicks that reach up to 230 decibels (dB), louder than a jet engine from a close range. Sperm whales primarily use these powerful sounds for navigation and to locate prey in the deep, dark waters of the ocean where light does not penetrate.

2. Howler Monkey

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Image Credit: Anton_Ivanov/Shutterstock.

Peak Decibels: About 140 dB

Howler monkeys are not just the loudest monkey species but also among the loudest animals living on land. Found in Central and South American forests, these primates can be heard up to three miles away in dense jungle.

Their howls serve multiple purposes, including marking territory, communicating within the troop, and warning off predators or rival groups.

3. Blue Whale

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Image Credit: Ajit S N/Shutterstock.

Peak Decibels: 188 dB

Blue whales, the largest animals on the planet, also have one of the loudest calls. Their vocalizations can be heard over hundreds of miles underwater. These low-frequency sounds are thought to be crucial for communication between individuals over great distances, particularly in the vast openness of the ocean, where visual cues are limited.

4. African Elephant

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Image Credit: hansen.matthew.d/Shutterstock.

Peak Decibels: Up to 117 dB

African elephants use a range of vocalizations, from trumpeting to rumbling, to communicate. Their trumpets, which can be as loud as 117 dB, can signify a range of emotions and intentions, from joy to distress.

These sounds are crucial for maintaining social bonds and coordinating group movements across their large home ranges.

5. Greengrocer Cicada

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Image Credit: fritz16/Shutterstock.

Peak Decibels: About 120 dB

The greengrocer cicada, found in Australia, is one of the loudest insects in the world. Their calls can reach up to 120 dB, which is loud enough to cause hearing damage in humans if close enough.

These cicadas use their loud calls, produced by vibrating membranes on their abdomens, to attract mates during the breeding season.

6. Lion

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Image Credit: 2021 Photography/Shutterstock.

Peak Decibels: Around 114 dB

The roar of a lion is one of the most iconic sounds of the animal kingdom. Lions use their roars to communicate their presence, assert territorial dominance, and coordinate with members of their pride.

These roars can be heard from up to 5 miles away ², serving as a powerful tool for both social interaction and territorial management.

7. North American Bullfrog

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Image Credit: Joe McDonald/Shuttershock.

Peak Decibels: Up to 119 dB

The North American bullfrog might be surprising on this list, but it is one of the loudest animals relative to its size. Their calls are used to attract females and ward off competing males during the breeding season. These vocalizations play a crucial role in their reproductive strategies.

8. Humpback Whale

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Image Credit: Nico Faramaz/Shutterstock.

Peak Decibels: Up to 190 dB

Humpback whales are renowned for their complex and haunting songs, which can carry through ocean waters for up to 20 miles. These vocalizations are primarily sung by males during the breeding season, likely to attract females and deter rival males.

The songs are composed of moans, howls, and cries that can last for hours, demonstrating a sophisticated form of communication.

9. Kakapo

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Image Credit: FeatherStalker Don/Shutterstock.

Peak Decibels: Up to 132 dB

The kakapo, also known as the night parrot, is a critically endangered species native to New Zealand. Despite being a flightless bird, the kakapo makes up for its lack of flight with one of the loudest bird calls known.

Their “booming” calls can reach up to 132 dB and can be heard several kilometers away. Males create these booming sequences to attract females from across their large territories during the breeding season.

10. White Bellbird

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Image Credit: Diego Grandi/Shutterstock.

Peak Decibels: Up to 125 dB

Found in the mountains of the northern Amazon, the male’s piercing two-note call can reach up to 125 dB and is primarily used to attract females. The intensity of the call is so extreme that the bird only sings in brief bursts, likely to avoid damaging its own hearing.

11. Greater Bulldog Bat

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Image Credit: Dr Morley Read/Shutterstock.

Peak Decibels: Up to 140 dB

The greater bulldog bat, native to Latin America, uses echolocation to navigate and hunt over water surfaces. Its echolocation calls can be exceptionally loud, reaching up to 140 dB. These sounds help it detect and scoop up fish from the water, showcasing an incredible adaptation to its aquatic hunting lifestyle.

12. Cicada

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Image Credit: Georgi Baird/Shutterstock.

Peak Decibels: Up to 120 dB

Cicadas of the genus Magicicada are among the loudest insects in North America. During their mass emergences, which occur every 13 or 17 years, the collective chorus of these cicadas can reach up to 120 dB ³.

This overwhelming sound saturates predators’ hearing, providing safety in numbers and facilitating mate attraction within the dense populations.

Purpose & Function of Loud Calls

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The loud calls of animals serve various critical purposes in their daily lives and survival strategies . These sounds are not just about volume; they play essential roles in communication, mating, territorial defense, and even navigation.

Understanding these functions can provide deeper insights into these remarkable creatures’ behaviors and social structures.

Communication Over Large Distances

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Image Credit: Standa Michalek/Shutterstock.

For many animals, especially those in dense or expansive habitats, loud calls are necessary to communicate over long distances. Elephants, for example, use low-frequency rumbles that travel through the ground farther than air, helping them communicate over several kilometers.

These calls can convey important information about their location, identity, or state of distress.

Mating Calls & Attraction

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Image Credit: Bouke Atema/Shutterstock.

Loud calls are often used to attract mates. The louder or more complex the call, the more likely it is to attract the attention of potential mates. This is seen vividly in the case of the male peacock spider, whose mating dance includes a series of vibrations and sounds designed to entice the female.

These sounds must be loud and clear to cut through the background noise and reach the intended recipient, who may be judging the fitness of the caller based on the quality of their vocal output.

Territorial Defense

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Image Credit: Ian Dyball/Shutterstock.

Loud calls can also serve as warnings or signals of dominance, effectively establishing and maintaining territories. Lions use their powerful roars to warn rivals and prevent clashes over territory, which can be costly in terms of energy and risk of injury.

Similarly, howler monkeys use their loud calls to assert dominance over large areas of the jungle, ensuring that rival troops are well aware of their territory’s presence and boundaries.

Navigation & Predation

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Image Credit: Sergey Uryadnikov/Shutterstock.

In the marine world, animals like whales and dolphins use loud calls for echolocation, helping them navigate and locate prey in the ocean’s vast and often murky waters. The sperm whale, with its series of clicks, can detect the size, shape, and speed of objects hundreds of meters away, guiding them toward food sources or away from potential threats.

Social Cohesion

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Image Credit: Ashley-Belle Burns/Shutterstock.

In species with complex social structures, such as wolves or wild dogs, loud calls help maintain group cohesion. These calls can coordinate movements during hunts or signal the pack’s location after members have dispersed.

They reinforce social bonds and ensure cooperative behaviors, which are crucial for the survival of these highly social animals.

Each function highlights the evolutionary advantages that loud calls provide across different environments and species. By broadcasting their presence, intentions, and emotional states through powerful vocalizations, these animals can navigate the challenges of their ecosystems more effectively, improving their chances of survival and reproductive success.

Martha A. Lavallie
Martha A. Lavallie
Author & Editor | + posts

Martha is a journalist with close to a decade of experience in uncovering and reporting on the most compelling stories of our time. Passionate about staying ahead of the curve, she specializes in shedding light on trending topics and captivating global narratives. Her insightful articles have garnered acclaim, making her a trusted voice in today's dynamic media landscape.