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32 Animals That Communicate in the Strangest Ways

squid
By Betty Wills, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44669283

Amongst humankind, language is our primary form of communication, an ability exclusive to us humans. Although there’s no other species that use language the same way we do, there’s definitely no lack of communication within the animal kingdom. Here are just a few examples of animals that communicate in the most complex and strangest ways.

1. Honeybees: The Waggle Dance

bees cant fly in the dark
Image by Dmitry Grigoriev via Unsplash

Honeybees perform a fascinating “waggle dance” to inform their hive mates about the location of food sources. This dance includes a series of movements that indicate the direction and distance of flowers from the hive.

2. Dolphins: Signature Whistles

Dog leads owner to baby dolphin
Image via Pexels

Dolphins are known for their sophisticated use of sound. Each dolphin develops a unique signature whistle that functions somewhat like a name, allowing them to identify and call to each other across vast ocean distances.

3. Elephants: Infrasound

elephant
Elephant in the savannah, in Namibia, Africa. Image via Depositphotos

Elephants communicate using sounds below the range of human hearing, known as infrasound. These low-frequency vibrations can travel over long distances, enabling elephants to send messages to each other up to several miles away.

4. Fireflies: Bioluminescent Morse Code

firefly
Image by Jerry Zhang via Unsplash

Fireflies use their bioluminescent tails to create flashing patterns – kind of like a visual Morse code. They use this code to attract mates and communicate with one another and each species has its unique flash pattern.

5. Prairie Dogs: Complex Vocal Language

Prairie Dog
Image by Wildphoto1 via Pixabay

Prairie dogs have a highly developed vocal communication system. They emit different sounds to signify the presence of different predators, and their calls can specify the type of predator, its size, and how fast it’s approaching.

6. Humpback Whales: Song

Humpback whale
Humpback whale tailfin. Image by Giles Laurent – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=142802304.

Male humpback whales sing complex songs that can last for up to 20 minutes and be heard over distances of up to 20 miles. These songs are thought to play a role in mating rituals and establishing dominance.

7. African Drumming Frogs

African drumming frog
Image by Josch13 via Pixabay

In West Africa, certain frogs use hollow trees to amplify their mating calls. By beating their chests in the cavities of trees, they create a drumming sound that resonates through the forest.

8. Bowerbirds: Decorative Calls

bowerbird
Image by Holgi via Pixabay

Male bowerbirds construct elaborate structures, or bowers, decorated with brightly colored objects to attract females. They also produce a variety of sounds, mimicking other bird species and even human-made sounds, to draw attention to their creations.

9. Wolves: Howling

wolf
Image of wolf via Pexels.

Wolves use howling as a way to gather the pack, communicate about territory, and locate members who are separated. A howl can carry as far as 10 miles in open terrain.

10. Vervet Monkeys: Alarm Calls

Vervet_Monkey_(Chlorocebus_pygerythrus)
Image by Thomas Shahan, CC BY 2.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Vervet monkeys use different alarm calls to indicate the presence of specific predators such as eagles, snakes, and leopards. Each call triggers a distinct response from the group.

11. Giraffes: Infrasonic Communication

giraffe
Image via Unsplash

Recent studies suggest that giraffes might communicate using sounds below the range of human hearing. These low-frequency noises could help maintain social bonds within groups.

12. Lyrebirds: Mimicry Masters

Lyrebirds
Image by Geoffrey Moore via Unsplash

Lyrebirds possess an incredible ability to mimic natural and artificial sounds from their environment. Their repertoire can include other bird calls, chainsaws, car alarms, and camera shutters.

13. Ants: Chemical Signals

fire ant
Image via Pixabay

Ants are masters of chemical communication. They leave pheromone trails to guide others to food sources and use a variety of chemicals to signal alarm, identify colony members, and mark territory.

14. Sperm Whales: Clicking Patterns

sperm whale
Photo by vitaliy_sokol via Depsoitphotos

Sperm whales produce a series of clicks called “codas” for communication and echolocation. These patterns vary and can convey different messages or indicate group membership.

15. Orcas: Dialects

Orca Pod. Image by Mike Doherty on Unsplash

Orcas, or killer whales, have complex vocalizations that can be considered dialects. Each pod uses unique sounds, which are thought to be learned and passed down through generations, to communicate.

16. Frogs and Toads: Chorus

Red Strawberry poison dart frog, Dendrobates pumilio, in Costa Rica. Image via Depositphotos

In mating season, male frogs and toads join together in a chorus to attract females. The collective croaking serves to amplify their presence, making it easier for females to locate them.

17. Birds of Paradise: Dance and Song

bird of paradise
By Philip Nalangan – Own work, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=145225081

Birds of paradise are famous for their elaborate mating dances and songs. Each species has its own unique performance, combining visual displays with vocalizations to attract mates.

18. Capuchin Monkeys: Stone Percussion

tool use of capuchin monkey
Image via Pixabay

Capuchin monkeys use stones to crack nuts, but they also use this tool percussively to communicate. The sound of stone hitting stone or nut can signify different things, such as territory or dominance.

Imagine if we communicated by the way we cook our food? The Capuchin monkey definitely deserves a feature on this list of animals that communicate in the strangest ways.

19. Kangaroo Rats: Foot Drumming

close up of kangaroo
Image via Pexels

Kangaroo rats use their hind legs to drum on the ground, sending vibrations through the earth to communicate with others. This can be a warning of predators or a declaration of territory.

20. Octopuses: Color Changes

octopus punching fish
Image by TheSP4N1SH via Depositphotos

Octopuses is another animal that communicates in one of the strangest ways. These marine creatures communicate their mood and intentions through dramatic changes in color and texture. In this way they express aggression, camouflage, or courtship.

21. Caribbean Reef Squid: Color Patterns

squid
By Betty Wills, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=44669283

Similar to octopuses, Caribbean reef squid use changing color patterns to communicate. They can send one message to a squid on their right and a different message to another on their left, simultaneously.

22. Zebra Finches: Heat Calls

zebra finch
Image by monikabaechler via Pixabay

Zebra finches communicate to their unhatched chicks through a special call that influences the development of the embryos, preparing them for external temperature conditions.

23. Crows and Ravens: Tool Use Signals

raven
Image by Michael Jerrard via Unsplash

Crows and ravens use tools and can communicate information about tool use to each other. This can include showing where tools are or how to use them.

24. Bats: Echolocation

vampire bats
Image by Oasalehm, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Bats emit high-frequency sounds that bounce off objects and return to their ears, helping them navigate and find food. They can also use these sounds to communicate with other bats.

25. Skunks: Chemical Warnings

Baby Skunk
Baby striped skunk, Mephitis mephitis. Image via Depositphotos

Skunks are well-known for their ability to spray a foul-smelling chemical to deter predators. This chemical communication is a clear warning to back off.

26. Cuttlefish: Pulsating Displays

cuttlefish
By AlessioMarrone – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=134941668

Cuttlefish use their skin to create pulsating patterns and colors that can communicate various messages, from mating signals to warnings.

27. Hyenas: Laughter

Brown hyena
Brown hyena (Hyaena brunnea) with prey (baby bat-eared fox) in mouth – Kalahari desert (South Africa). Image by Johan Swanepoel via Depositphotos

Hyenas’ “laughter” is a form of communication used to signal excitement, frustration, or social status within their group.

28. Parrots: Vocal Learning

Argentine parrots in a tree branch. Image by lmperez via Depositphotos.

Parrots are among the few animals capable of vocal learning, mimicking human speech and other sounds to communicate with their human companions or other parrots.

29. Arctic Foxes: Tail Signals

arctic fox
Image via Unsplash

Arctic foxes use their tails to signal to other foxes, conveying information about their intentions, mood, or the presence of danger.

30. Manatees: Touch and Sound

Manatee Family
Manatees are remarkable marine mammals with a low metabolic rate, enabling them to survive on a diet primarily consisting of seagrasses and aquatic vegetation. Image by Noaa via Unsplash

Manatees use a combination of gentle touches and vocal sounds to communicate with each other, especially between mothers and calves.

31. Porcupines: Quill Rattling

porcupine
Image by Irina_kukuts via Pixabay

When threatened, porcupines shake their quills, producing a rattling sound as a warning to potential predators to stay away.

32. Peacocks: Feather Displays

peacock
Image by Siddhant Kumar via Unsplash

Peacocks use their spectacular tail feathers to create visual displays that communicate their fitness and attractiveness to peahens.

Animals That Communicate In the Strangest Ways: Conclusion

kangaroo
Image by Ethan Brooke via Pexels

As you can see from this extensive and impressive list, the animals around us are constantly communicating in ways we didn’t even know were possible. Like so many other things, it’s easy to overlook the animal kingdom’s many capabilities just because they’re different from how we do it.

Thank you for reading this list of animals that communicate in the strangest ways! For similar reading, take a look at these posts:

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