One of my favorite memories of safaris in South Africa was the first night we were out camping, and I almost peed myself at the sound of a lion’s nighttime roar. Throughout that trip, we’d go on to hear dozens of different animal noises, from hyenas to bats and everything in between.
Some were about as weird or scary as expected, but a few were so chillingly strange they’ve stuck with me all along.
And it recently got me to thinking: African wild animals can’t be the only ones that make weird sounds at night. I mean, I can think of quite a few domestic animals that are great at freaking people out with their unusual grunts, so surely there must be even more animals all over the world able to freak us out with a simple whistle or growl.
If you’re going camping, traveling, or even just live near the woods, you may even be familiar with a lot of the animals on this list. If not, I present to you my complete list of things, or rather creatures, that become vocal freaks at night.
The nocturnal calls of owls at their finest:
Alright, I’m pretty sure if you asked a child what animals make weird sounds at night, even their first answer would be “owls,” but I mean, they do sound a little weird regardless of what bird lovers may tell you.
When I was younger, I would always read about the birds hooting at night or calling out to each other in an eerie way. It wasn’t until I watched the Harry Potter film series that I first heard the sounds they make, and believe me, they can be a little strange, especially when you consider the best time to hear them is in the woods. Alone. At night. In the dark.
Their eerie “hoo, hoo” vocalizations are enough to chill you to the bone, especially if you realize their sounds could very well sound like a person calling out from the darkness.
Even writing about it makes me shiver a little, and don’t let me get started on their screeches.
But before I descend into owl-induced paranoia, I must admit owls are, generally, very cute animals and that their noises are actually quite useful to them when they want to protect their territory or feel threatened.
I mean, if it’s enough to scare a human, it’s probably more enough to scare away other birds and animals the owls aren’t exactly thrilled about having around.
Click here for frog croaks in all their glory:
Alright, another entry on the list, and these guys are only here because their sounds are weird. Laugh-inducingly weird.
Whether it’s coming from your garden pond, a lake, or a river, the throaty, croaking sounds you hear at night are most likely made by frogs. These sounds can range from deep, belly rumbling croaks to high-pitched chirps depending on the frog and the circumstances, but each call is distinct, and it’s pretty easy to recognize if you may or may not have a frog infestation.
Like owls, frogs croak for a particular reason: to attract a mate. Apparently, humans aren’t the only ones who think being serenaded in the twilight is romantic. I can’t believe I’m about to say it, but it makes me think some of today’s men could learn a thing or two about wooing a partner from their slimy, slippery little friends.
No wonder the princess kissed that frog. If I was sung to, I probably would have done the same.
Have you ever been woken in the middle of the night by the sound of a woman screeching in extreme fear or pain? No?
Well, then you’ve never heard a fox screech. It is by far the weirdest, creepiest sound you will hear in your life, and its eeriness will touch your soul if you allow it to. And if you don’t know what’s making the sound? Well, there’s a good chance you’re halfway on your way to call 911 to report a murder.
Thankfully, foxes aren’t going screaming in the night to freak humans out. They actually do it for a range of good reasons like:
- Claiming and protecting their territory
- To protect their young
- To scare off intruders
- To annoy suburban residential dwellers: Although I’m sure this isn’t on purpose, there’s a good chance they figured the more they scream, the more the humans will leave them alone. They weren’t wrong.
If you don’t know what bats sound like, check this out.
Alright, another obvious one here, but I’d be a fool to exclude bats from this list. Their combination of chirps, whistles, and throaty screeches are enough to make anyone get a little freaked out.
And it’s not as if their appearance or mythical origins help much. They’re loud, ugly, and drink your blood (at least some of the time), all traits that would leave most people running for the hills. Unfortunately, bats can also fly, so good luck with the running.
No matter what you have against bat sounds at night, though, their use of brutally screechy noise is resourceful as most bats are blind and rely on echolocation, which means they need to make a lot of noise to get where they want to go and means humans are treated to a chorus of seriously questionable choruses.
Here’s a video of wolves howling, as if you need a reminder.
I guarantee every child with at least one working TV has seen a movie or cartoon where a wolf howls at the moon. Sure, wolves may howl while there’s a full moon out there, but they don’t actually howl at the big, silvery pizza pie in the sky.
Instead, wolves howl to communicate with each other and share information like their location, if they’ve spotted prey, or even if they’ve noticed any predators around.
Unfortunately for humans, these howls aren’t only weird to hear at night; they’re downright terrifying. And if those movies and cartoons taught us anything worth remembering, it’s that it is never a good idea to mess with a wolf, whether it was howling at the moon or not.
If you’ve never heard a raccoon’s noises, here you go.
Ah yes, trash pandas. They are simultaneously adorable and terrifying. I remember recently watching a video where a group of US army soldiers got chased from a tank by a raccoon. It seemed a little ironic that something so small and so cuddly could terrify a group of adult men, let alone hardened soldiers.
If you live near a forest or park, you’ve probably encountered a raccoon at some point, or at the very least heard the weird sounds they make, which often resembles the same noise you expect to hear if someone was breaking into your house, but instead, a fluffy black and white creature are about neck deep in your week’s garbage.
If you’re wondering what sort of noises these critters make and why the answers are endless. They may simply like being loud while they search for food, they may be trying to warn off other animals, or they may be scared of something and make noise in response to try and scare the potential predator away.
Whatever the reason, rest assured if you do run into a raccoon, it will give you an earful of snorts, snarls, growls, and screams to remind you to stay away.
See for yourself why hyenas make the weirdest sounds.
Hyenas are probably the weirdest noisemakers out there. They don’t screech or howl or even growl. The laugh. And not a light, cheerful kind of laugh. No, they laugh like they’re halfway to turning into Batman’s Joker and think the sentiment is hilarious.
However, in a hyena’s mind, these giggles aren’t hilarious or laugh-inducing; they are loud and menacing and scary. In fact, most hyenas don’t laugh because they’re happy or cheerful. They laugh when they feel threatened, attacked, or frustrated. And sometimes, they may giggle a little just because.
If you thought hearing a lion roar at night was weird, wait until you hear a cackling laugh outside the fence of your camp. It is way scarier.
Listen to this catfight and tell me it’s not weird to hear.
And this brings us to one of my favorite nighttime noisemakers around cats. Sure, cats meow and purr and go on like they’re the cutest creatures on earth, but if you’ve ever heard cats fighting or meowing in search of a mate or food, you’ll know why they’re on this list.
Let’s start with catfights. The sound associated with them is somewhere between a woman’s scream and the screeching of tires spinning on the hot tarmac. In short, it’s probably the sound effect horror film directors use for when the next victim somehow gets sucked through the garbage disposal.
Then there are the loud, moaning meows that are about as annoying as the screeching, except that they’re so bothersome I’m pretty sure cats fight just to get each other to shut up.
Hear a lion’s nighttime rumblings here.
Speaking of cats, lions are the reason this list started and actually make even weirder sounds in the night than in the day. Sure, a lion’s roar is creepy, but have you ever heard them grunting and growling?
It’s a very unique sound that you won’t often hear unless you are actually out on the plains of Africa and happen to sleep somewhere near a lion pride, but if you ever do, you’ll know exactly what I mean when I say it sounds like something between a bark, roar, and the sound a lion would make if it was having a terrible stomach ache.
Lions make these sounds for similar reasons as their roars: to warn of other animals, in frustration, or simply exercise their vocal chords. Whatever the case, though, the sound is as weird as it gets.
Dogs may not be the most conventional answer to the question “Which animals make weird noises at night?” but I’ve recently adopted a puppy who has a very active imagination and even more active dreams. I can promise you the sounds they make while running through imaginary fields chasing even more unreal rabbits are adorable but also a little weird.
And don’t let me get started on huskies. Sure, they’re fluffy, have beautiful eyes, and seem to have a ton of energy, but have you heard the noises those animals can make at all times of the day?
When they’re not full-out howling, they sound a lot like an angry woman having a very high-pitched argument with themselves.
If not the scariest or most annoying, dogs dreaming and huskies being themselves certainly earn dogs a place on this list.
Want to amaze yourself with the sounds of koalas at night? Click here
Koalas may not have been your first thought when trying to make a list of weird noises animals make at night, but they sure are up there.
First, it’s important to know that most koalas are nocturnal, even though they spend more than 20 hours a day sleeping, which makes day and night just a little obsolete.
Second, koalas can be loud. And I mean really loud.
Sure, they may only be screeching for a few hours a day, but when they do, the sound is surprising and also a bit weird coming from such a small, fluffy body. Most of the time, Koalas will start vocalizing when they’re looking for a mate, but that doesn’t mean they can’t just do it because they feel like it, which in many cases is what they do anyway.
And so they snarl and screech and bellow, never imagining their sounds, are freaking out an entire demographic who simply assumed they were mute animals.
Soothe yourself with the chirps of crickets here.
Ah yes, crickets. Possibly the most annoying animals, or rather insects, on this list. It’s not so much the sound that bothers people, but the consistency.
Whatever you may think of the stamina of a cricket’s chirping. Rest assured, they can continue for much, much longer.
If you’ve ever had a cricket in your house or went camping near where one lives, you’ll know all about their incessant chirps and noises. No matter what you do, they won’t stop, and good luck finding them as they blend perfectly into the grass.
And the only reason for these continual chirps? They serve as a mating call, making crickets some of the most persistent lovers out there.
Hear a coyote’s howls and calls here.
Like wolves, the howls and yaps of a coyote strike fear into many peoples’ hearts, most pressingly so farmers who have to protect their livestock from becoming the animals’ next midnight snack.
Coyotes can make a hell of a lot of noise when they want to, howling, yapping, and very nearly barking like a dog. Hearing these sounds at night could feel weird and disconcerting, especially if you’ve never encountered them before. The sound is enough to make any man quake in his boots, although in most cases, these sounds aren’t directed to humans at all.
Instead, they’re meant to freak out nearby predators, communicate with other coyotes in the pack, or signal that something has been killed and is ready to be eaten.
Unfortunately, these reasons just add to the sinister mystery surrounding their calls and don’t really ease my mind about hearing them howl one day.
Hear a bear’s growls and grunts here.
Ah yes, any camper or scout’s worst nightmare: encountering a bear at night. And it doesn’t help that the low-pitched huffs and growls used by bears when they’re agitated are similar to the sounds a huge, angry dog would make while it stalks its prey.
Hearing a bear at night may not only be weird but could leave most of the people who heard it running for their houses or their cars and hoping they aren’t spotted as a tasty treat.
Although these sounds aren’t necessarily a sign of aggression, they are scary enough to make people who hear them feel threatened, and, considering the size of most brown bears and what they could do to humans, that fear isn’t entirely unfounded.
Here are the sounds possums make at night.
Ah, another cute entry on a list that heavily features scary animals: opossums. These adorable little critters are very vocal at night and actually have a unique vocal range that includes clicking noises interspersed with soft growls or hisses. These noises could be made as a way to attract a mate or warn off predators.
However, the weirdest and cutest sound by far is the one baby possums make when they want their parents’ attention: they sneeze. Or at least they sound like they’re sneezing.
If that’s not the most adorable request for a little love and care, I don’t know what is.
Want to hear a badger’s sound effects? Check it out here.
Last but not least, on our list of animals that make weird noises is the mighty badger
Similar to raccoons, badgers are relatively cute animals with an extensive vocal range. The churr, purr, wail, growl, snarl, and yelp as they go about searching for food in dumpsters or behind houses.
In most cases, these sounds are used to communicate with each other. A male may get especially vocal when looking for a mate, and a female may use her voice as a way to signal her approval or disapproval, for that matter.
Whatever the case, hearing a badger at night could feel a little weird as you try to figure out precisely what is making the noise and whether or not it warrants you running downstairs with a baseball bat in one hand and a phone to call 911 in the other.