Elephant Sounds

What sounds do elephants make?

We all know Asian elephants can trumpet, but did you know they squeak, chirp, and rumble too? Besides vocalizations, they make other sounds as they eat, move, and bathe. Listen…


Elephants trumpet when they are highly stimulated. While most vocalizations are made with the larynx, a trumpet is produced by pushing air through the trunk. Trumpeting elephants may be excited, lost, angry, playful, or surprised. Listen to the differences in these four trumpets.


Rumbles are particularly interesting. Low frequency rumbles can be used to communicate over long distances. They can also be used when greeting, bonding, threatening, soliciting a mate, soothing, or giving reassurance. This rumble was recorded in the forest between two female companions. Underneath the buzz of insects, you will hear a quiet purr-like rumble.


A roar may be used to intimidate or in the response to aggression. High levels of distress or even happy excitement can produce a roar. Although this roar may seem intimidating, it was the first vocalization expressed during a joyful reunion.

Chirps and Squeaks

Chirps and squeaks are unique to Asian elephants. They may be used to announce news, communicate needs, assemble a group, reassure, and lend support.

Ear Flapping

Elephants do not sweat through their skin. Flapping their ears, which contain many blood vessels, allow them to regulate their body temperature. Flapping ears are a sign of a relaxed, content elephant.


Asian elephants love the water. They bathe, swim, play, soak, and socialize. In this clip, you can hear air being expelled through the trunk followed by splashing.

Eating Cucumber

An Asian elephant’s typical diet consists mainly of grasses, but they also eat fruit and vegetables. Listen to an elephant bite into a very large cucumber.

If you would like to learn more about elephant communication, go to http://elephantvoices.org.