Have you ever been out camping and heard a strange, eerie sound in the distance? Or maybe you were sitting at home reading a book when a haunting howl made you look up in surprise. Chances are, you were hearing an animal letting out its inner wolf!
Many animals in the wild use howling as a form of communication. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the most well-known howlers in the animal kingdom and explore why they do it. Get ready to learn all about the fascinating reasons animals like wolves, monkeys, coyotes, and more make their melodic howls.
Of all the animals out there, wolves are definitely the most iconic howlers. Their long, mournful howls are an important part of their communication. Wolves howl for a few different reasons. Howling helps them assemble the pack before a hunt, lets separated wolves reconnect, and warns rival packs to keep their distance.
Wolves howl more frequently in the evening, night, and early morning. This is likely because sound carries farther in the still night air, allowing separated wolves to hear each other from miles away! Their howls can be heard up to 10km away.
A wolf’s howl is unique to each individual. Wolves may howl alone or as a group. When a pack howls together, they harmonize rather than just making noise. This makes the song carry farther. A group howl is a way for the entire pack to connect and signal their location or assemble for a hunt.
Howler monkeys get their name from the deep guttural howls they use to communicate across South American rainforests. Their howls can travel up to 5km through dense jungle!
Howler monkeys are the loudest land animal. They have specially adapted vocal cords and a hollow hyoid bone in their throat that allows them to amp up the volume. When multiple howler monkeys howl together, it results in a deafening roar.
These noisy primates howl for a few reasons. Male howler monkeys howl to defend their territory. Their deep, reverberating roars let rival males know to keep their distance! Howler monkeys also howl greetings to each other across the canopy. Their howls let monkeys connect over long distances.
Howler monkey families sleep together in the treetops and use a specific dawn howl to reconnect and signal the start of a new day.
That eerie, yipping howl you hear around dusk could be a coyote chorus! Coyotes use howling and yipping for a few reasons. It helps separate family members connect after a night of hunting alone. It also asserts territory and warns rival coyotes to stay away.
Coyote family groups will howl together as a form of social bonding. They howl before setting out to hunt and reconvene with howls when they return from the hunt. Their howls, yips, and barks communicate their location to the rest of the pack. A chorus of coyote howls bonds the family together.
Coyotes also howl and yap wildly when reuniting after becoming separated. You can tell these howls serve an important reconnect purpose! The wide repertoire of sounds coyotes make allows packs to locate and regroup with each other in the dark.
Jackals are lesser known howlers but use howls in very cool ways. Several jackal species including the golden jackal and black-backed jackal communicate with unique howls. Jackal packs howl together as a territorial song, signalling to rivals that an area is occupied.
Jackals also howl as an assembly howl that gathers the pack to go hunt. Their howls can have a laughing, crying, or yelping quality. Jackals will howl excitedly after reuniting with their pack or finding food. Their wide range of vocalizations allows complex communication.
Jackal pups even join in the howling songs! This allows them to learn how to howl properly and bond with the adults.
The wild dingo’s of Australia are lesser known howlers of the canine world. Dingo’s use howls for many reasons similar to wolves and coyotes. Their eerie howls help separated dingo’s reconnect over long distances in the Australian outback.
Dingo howls also assert pack territory and warn rival packs not to trespass. Dingo families have unique howls that allow them to locate and regroup with their own specific pack. Pups join in the howling to learn how to communicate properly.
Studies show dingo’s howl more frequently around dawn and dusk, likely to reconnect with pack members before setting out on a hunt. Dingo howls can vary from a high-pitched howling to yelping or barking.