What sounds do crocodiles make? Learn crocodile language

by MMC
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What sounds do crocodiles make? It may not be a question you’ve thought about, but these talkative crocodilians possess a fascinating range of vocalizations.

There are many unique crocodile sounds, each used in different contexts. It could be male crocodiles struggle on females, staking their territory, or baby crocodiles communicating with their mothers.

As new studies emerge, crocodiles continue to surprise scientists with their methods of communication. Yet there is still much to learn about these enigmatic creatures.

What is the difference between a crocodile growl and a crocodile roar? Can they hiss like a snake? And how do crocodiles make these sounds?

Read on to learn all about different crocodile noises and their meanings.

A surprising range of crocodile sounds

Hungry crocodile ambushes impalas in Kruger National Park

Some view crocodiles as mindless predators, only concerned with their next meal. Yet beneath the surface (often literally), crocodiles live complex social lives and communicate in different ways.

Sure, they can stay silent when hunting, but when they’re not waiting patiently to ambush their prey, crocodiles and alligators are the loudest of all reptiles.

An Australian researcher discovered 13 different crocodile sounds, from coughs and grunts to roars and hisses. Crocodiles also talk to each other in other non-verbal ways, such as slapping water and even blowing bubbles.

Understanding all of these noises can be difficult, and there is still much to learn about what crocodile sounds really mean. Yet there is already a lot of fascinating information about communicating with crocodiles.

Here are a few the most common crocodile noises and their meanings.

The fearsome roar of the crocodile (or below)

As you would expect from a apex predator, crocodile noises can be scary. When a male wants to intimidate his rivals or conquer a female, he unleashes the impressive crocodile roar – also known as below.

Males will raise their heads and tails out of the water, visibly inflating themselves. Then they will inflate their throats and vibrate air through their closed mouths.

Crocodiles bellow throughout the year, but it is the most common during the breeding season, when groups of crocodiles gather. The powerful, low-frequency vibrations can travel great distances and even make the water appear to be “dancing.”

A study on alligators found that gusset communicates body size. Larger alligators have longer vocal cords and therefore lower bellows, allowing other individuals to keep out of the way if they are outmatched.

Other species, such as Nile crocodiles, also have a hierarchy based on size. Howling is a good way to demonstrate dominance without having to fight – although it doesn’t always prevent violence.

Male Nile crocodiles slap the water with their snouts and spray water from their noses to mark their territory and ward off rivals.


A crocodile growl is a lot like a bellows – a low, guttural noise often used for mating or territorial displays. Both males and females will growl, and it’s still unclear exactly what that means in each context.


Lioness fiercely defends prey from hungry crocodile

Can crocodiles hiss? Yes.

Snakes are not the only reptiles to hiss: several crocodilians can do so, notably alligators, caimans and certain species of crocodiles.

A crocodile hiss is essentially a warning, telling you to back off! If you find yourself in the reception area, you should follow the advice and move away to a safe distance.


Don’t be too surprised if you hear a crocodile coughing. We don’t see it often (maybe because they’re too polite to do it in public), but crocodiles spitting “hairballs” just like cats.

Crocodiles cannot digest fur or chitin (the substance found in arthropod exoskeletons), so meals from mammals and crustaceans form a ball in their stomachs. The crocodile will have to regurgitate raise them, which sounds a lot like coughing.

Baby crocodile sounds: growls and squeaks

Mother Nile crocodile carrying her newly hatched baby in her mouth to get to safety

The crocodiles start to make noise early in life – before they’ve even hatched, in fact. The sounds of baby crocodiles are essential for communicating with their mother and exiting the nest.

Female crocodiles lay their eggs in holes dug in the sand or in mounds of vegetation. After a few months of incubation, the young begin to hatch and they starts calling from inside the egg.

Newborns are not strong enough to dig themselves, so their mother helps them. Thanks to her keen hearing, she responds to calls and help get them out of the nest.

Baby crocodile sounds could be best described as a high pitched squeak – certainly not as intimidating as an adult’s vocalizations. If you hear a baby crocodile squealing in the wild, it’s best not to stick around because its mother will soon be there to watch over it.

Baby Nile crocodiles stay with their mothers until two years. In addition to squeaks, they also communicate through grunts.

Predatory response

Crocodiles even react to babies of other species, but in a very different way.

A recent study discovered that Nile crocodiles were quick to investigate crying human, chimpanzee and bonobo babies. (Luckily they used audio recordings rather than actual recordings!)

When the recordings were broadcast, many crocodiles quickly swam towards the sound. Some approached underwater in an obviously predatory manner, and a few even attempted to bite the speakers.

It makes sense: Predators like an easy meal, and a defenseless young animal makes a great snack in the wild.

However, not all responses were predatory. The study authors believed that some female crocodiles might have responded with protective behavior, with the monkeys’ cries exploiting their innate ability. Mother instinct.

Intriguing, but it’s probably still not a good idea to use a crocodile as a babysitter.

How do crocodiles make sounds?

Close-up of a crocodile's mouth and sharp teeth

Crocodilians, just like humans, have a larynx and make sounds. vibrate their vocal cords. Yet the exact mechanism of crocodile noises remained a mystery until recently.

One study investigated alligators’ sound production by examining the anatomy of the larynx. The authors discovered that alligators could use complex motor control to produce a range of sounds.

A muscle in particular, the cricoarytenoidplays an important role in the length and tension of the vocal cords.

Crocodilians can produce certain sounds at frequencies so low that the human ear cannot pick them up. infrasound. Yet we can see its effects on the crocodile’s environment, such as when the water vibrates when a crocodile bellows.

Crocodile hearing

In addition to making sounds, crocodiles must also be able to react to them. Whether hunting, hatching or reproducing, crocodile hearing plays an important role in the reptiles’ daily lives.

The crocodiles have very good hearing and are highly sensitive to different tones, allowing them to respond differently to the cries of an injured animal, the distress call of a baby, or the territorial display of a rival.

Crocodile communication relies largely on frequencyand different families of crocodilians can always “understand” each other when they share an “acoustic code”.

In one study, juvenile Nile crocodiles heard recorded calls of two species of caiman, a relative of the alligator family. Since the calls had a frequency similar to that of Nile crocodiles, the young crocodiles still responded to them.

Do crocodiles have ears?

A crocodile's ear, located behind its eye

Yes, crocodiles have ears. You might have trouble spotting them at first because there is no external ear. A crocodile’s ear looks like a small slit located behind its eyes.

Crocodiles often submerge themselves with their ears slightly out of the waterbut when they dive, special flaps close over the ears to prevent water from entering.

Unlike humans, crocodiles’ hearing does not decline with age because they create new hair cells in the ears throughout their lives.

Other senses

Crocodiles don’t just rely on hearing; they need their other senses sharpened.

Crocodile eyes may not have the best depth perception or see fine details, but they boast excellent night vision and a nearly 360-degree panoramic field of view.

Crocodiles also have three eyelids. The middle eyelid is a transparent membrane that essentially acts like a pair of glasses, allowing the animal to see underwater without damaging its eyes.

A superb sense of smell is practical for sniffing live prey or carcasses to recover.

Finally, filled with nerves sensory organs on their snout also facilitate the rapid reactions of these reptiles to water disturbances.

Captivating Crocodile Sounds

A huge Nile crocodile searching for water

Now you know the answer to the question: “what sounds do crocodiles make?” » and the meaning of many of these crocodile noises.

There is still a lot to learn about communicating with crocodiles, but it is clear that there is a lot to learn. creatures more complex than most people think.

If you want to hear crocodile sounds for yourself, why not go on safari see these impressive animals in the wild?

There is five species of crocodiles in Africabut the largest and most widespread is the Nile crocodile, which lives in 26 African countries.

Whether lounging on the shore of one of the The most famous rivers in Africaor sticking your head out of the water in a rural lake, there are plenty of places to spot this amazing predator.

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