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Gorilla Sounds: Guide to 6 Gorilla Noises, Roars, Grunts

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What sounds do gorillas make? What do gorilla sounds mean? In this post, you'll learn about 6 gorilla noises, roars, grunts, and more. Plus videos of gorilla sound and noises. Hearing a gorilla roar and scream would surely be a frightening thing to experience. Here's what it all means.

gorilla sounds

Guide to Gorilla Sounds

Gorillas make all sorts of different sounds, depending on the situation they're in. Some sounds convey contentment, happiness, or playfulness. Other sounds show fear, aggression, or protectiveness.

Do different gorilla species make different sounds?

The gorilla sounds we'll be discussing will cover all species.

There are four main types of gorillas, two species, and 4 subspecies:

  1. Western Gorilla: They can found in the Congo Basin in Africa, in forest habitats. Mountain gorillas, as suggested by their name, are also found in the mountains.
    1. Western Lowland Gorilla
    2. Cross River Gorilla
  2. Eastern Gorilla
    1. Mountain Gorilla
    2. Eastern Lowland Gorilla

Can different gorilla sounds help us identify different groups?

While the gorilla sounds we'll be covering applies to the four types of gorillas, you can sometimes identify the sex and age of a gorilla depending on the sound made.

Do gorillas have a mating call?

No, gorillas usually don't have a mating call. The mating ritual consists of a female of the group going to the dominant silverback. Note: Silverbacks aren't a type of species of gorilla. Instead, the term silverback refers to older male gorillas, that have begun to develop grayish-white hair on their shoulders and backs.

The female then will stare down the male until he relents and mating occurs.

Sometimes, the dominant silverback may initiate mating by touching her, or by grunting. It may even slap and charge the female if she's unwilling.

How many different sounds can gorillas make?

Researchers have been able to identify 20-25 distinct sounds that gorillas make. A lot of these sounds are still yet to be fully understood.

The following gorilla sounds discussed in this article have been identified. You can also learn what they mean.

With time, we're learning how to speak gorilla.

1. Gorilla Roar, Scream, Hooting

A gorilla roar, scream or hoot is an aggressive call, done during tense situations.

Which gorillas make this sound?

Usually, gorillas that make this sound are the silverbacks.

What does this gorilla sound mean?

When you hear a gorilla make this sound, it may be doing so because it feels threatened. That may be because of another silverback or younger male trying to show dominance , or something else entirely. It's a sound meant to scare away what the gorilla considers a danger. This sound is usually accompanied by the beating of the gorilla's chest.

This gorilla sound is sometimes preceded by absolute silence. The gorilla may stop what it's doing, look towards the source of what it may consider a danger, while waiting for the perfect time to jump out with its fearsome roar.

2. Gorilla Belch

This gorilla sound is also known as Belch Vocalization or a contact call. It's described as “a deep prolonged rumble”, and “‘throat-clearing sound'”.

Which gorillas make this sound?

The silverbacks of a band of gorillas usually start this sound. The rest of the band follow after.

What does this gorilla sound mean?

This sound is considered part of gorilla etiquette. It's used to convey contentment between individuals, or non-aggression. The belch means they're okay with visitors in their area.

This sound can also be used by visitors, gorilla or otherwise, to show they're not a threat to the group. Guides may imitate this call when out on gorilla treks for safety.

More reading: How to Choose a Gorilla Trek

3. Grunting

This gorilla sound is described as a grunting sound, reminiscent of the sound a pig makes. Thus, this sound is sometimes known as “pig grunts”.

Which gorillas make this sound?

All gorillas will make this sound.

What does this gorilla sound mean?

This is a gorilla sound to tell others to back off, to stop what they're doing, or move away. A gorilla may make this sound when it wants to eat a particular plant, and another moves in to take it.

4. Chuckling

This gorilla sound is characterized by a hoarse laughing sound.

Which gorillas make this sound?

This sound is usually made by younger gorillas, though all may make this sound.

What does this gorilla sound mean?

This gorilla sound is made as an expression of playfulness and joy. It can also be made as an invitation to play.

5. Singing

This gorilla sound is described as a high-pitched sound, like a dog whining.

Which gorillas make this sound?

All gorillas make this sound, especially when they're eating.

What does this gorilla sound mean?

This sound is another sound of contentment, which can extend from the belch vocalization. It's usually heard, as previously mentioned, while a gorilla is eating.

6. Whining and Crying

This gorilla sound is described as very similar to the cries of human babies. It can sometimes build up into screams and shrieks, like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum.

Which gorillas make this sound?

This gorilla sound can be heard from gorilla infants.

What does this gorilla sound mean?

This sound usually means when a gorilla infant is in some form of distress. This would include being in an uncomfortable position, left behind by the band, separated from its mother, or needing help.

More reading: Why do hyenas laugh? and What Sound Does a Zebra Make?

gorilla noises

More reading: How strong is a gorilla?

Your Turn!

Did you learn something new in this post? Do you have any questions? Or was there something I missed? Leave a comment below!

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