The laugh tells other hyenas the animal’s social status, age, health, and just plain identity-

It also has many other uses such as the recruitment of allies and warning.

Hyenas’ Laughter Signals Deciphered. ScienceDaily.

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About The Author

Ralph Maughan

Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University with specialties in natural resource politics, public opinion, interest groups, political parties, voting and elections. Aside from academic publications, he is author or co-author of three hiking/backpacking guides, and he is President of the Western Watersheds Project.

12 Responses to Hyenas' Laughter Signals Deciphered

  1. avatar mikarooni says:

    Hyena laughter used as communication is nothing new. It happens on FOX news and at tea party rallies all the time.

  2. avatar JEFF E says:

    I personally have a fear of Hyenas. don’t know why, never been around them. My son in law from Zimbabwe thinks that is the funniest thing he has ever heard.
    He refuses to go camping where there may be wolves.
    go figure

  3. avatar John d. says:

    Not a dog, not a cat but something entirely different. As you say Mikarooni its nothing new that hyenas use the ‘laugh’ as communication. What did people actually think these animals were high on laughing gas?

    Jeff E

    Maybe your fear stems from their jaw pressure being the strongest of any land mammal? Hehe.

  4. avatar JEFF E says:

    Johnd,
    that is true, but I don’t think I care about jaw preasure, but it is their call that triggers me. Even when I was little, 4-5 years old and watched Tarzan movies, I did NOT like hyenas.
    Glad to hear from you by the way.

  5. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    I have always wanted to hear hyenas. That laugh has to one of the most eerie sounds in nature, along with a mountain lion scream.

  6. avatar JEFF E says:

    and yes that is just how wolves use howling, and ……. name your species.

  7. I think that future research will show that the same information is included in the calls of most animals including birds.

    • avatar ProWolf in WY says:

      Larry, I am convinced that birds like crows, ravens, and magpies have what almost seems like a language. When you are close to them they are constantly chattering to each other.

  8. avatar Save Bears says:

    Hyenas are one of the only animals that have ever made the hair stand up on the back of my neck, there calls and laughs in the wild are simply unnerving..the other is the scream of a Mt Lion, it sounds like a woman screaming for her life!

    • avatar ProWolf in WY says:

      Everyone I know who has heard a mountain lion scream describes it that way. I remember my dad coming home from bow hunting and telling us he had heard a mountain lion scream.

  9. avatar ProWolf in WY says:

    Sorry, pushed submit too soon. 🙂 He had said that it was like a woman screaming and by far the most hideous sound he had heard.

    • avatar Save Bears says:

      I was bowhunting one year off the back side of a mountain and it was one of those days that was so quiet, it makes your ears hurt, I had dozed off and all of a sudden I was startled awake by what I thought was a woman screaming, that brought me right to my feet looking around with the juices flowing and about 25 yards away there was a cat in a tree, it was a very unnerving experience to say the least, I figured my card had been punched that day…

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