BY EMILY FERLEMANN
Like any other mammal you may be familiar with, tigers make a variety of noises. Below are some examples of tiger vocalizations we hear in our research. To hear the calls, click on the orange and green words!
The prusten, also known as a chuff, is our organization’s namesake and a friendly tiger greeting. You will often hear littermates chuffing to one another, as well as a parent to their cubs. It’s a friendly greeting that a tiger will only make if they are happy and relaxed. This short vibration of a call is the quietest vocalization you will hear a tiger make.
If you have ever worked as a keeper with a tiger or just visited the zoo a lot, you know how dramatic tigers can be. Imagine your house cat, but way larger and more opinionated. A moan is louder and longer than a prusten but softer and shorter than a true roar. A moan is a short range vocalization used for communication between individuals that are close in distance.
When you think to yourself, “What does a tiger sound like?” You more than likely hear a true roar. This is the call that we focus on in our studies. While moans and prustens are quieter calls, a true roar can be heard from miles around and is quite long. A true roar can be up to 114 decibels. To give scale, a tiger roar is 25 times louder than a gas lawn mower. On average, female long calls are longer than males. When you do hear a true roar, they will last around 20 seconds, from soft bouts crescendo-ing into the iconic roar. A true roar serves a variety of purposes, from establishing territory to finding mates.
4. Coughing Roar
Unlike the above three calls, coughing roars are not typically a friendly call. Coughing roars are most often observed when the tiger feels threatened or is actively in a fight. These calls are also very loud and can be heard from long distances. I dug through a few hundred of our calls and was unable to find one of our own recordings, so if you click here there is a great representation of a coughing roar from the Big Cat Rescue. A coughing roar is best represented in this video by the second tiger, with its ears pinned back and standing on its hind legs.
5. The Weird
Between the above conventional calls, we have also recorded some truly strange noises during our research. For example, have you ever heard a tiger snore? What about tiger bark? Although we don’t know what some of these calls mean yet, we are open to input. Comment on our post if you have an idea for what a tiger bark may mean. Do you think a tiger snore could be the link to discovering what tigers really do dream about when they take a tiger snooze?