Raccoons are animals with a lot to say, and they express themselves in various ways. If you’ve ever had them in your backyard, you’ll know firsthand how loud and annoying they can be. They make hissing sounds, barks, growls, and purrs. Yes, you read that right; raccoons have been known to purr.
The reasons behind a raccoon’s purr can vary. Purring can be a warning sound or a sign of contentment, which sounds confusing but don’t worry; it’ll be obvious from the body language which they’re trying to convey. Chances are, if you hear them purring, you can take it as a bad sign, and you should probably move away.
The noises raccoons make can be broken down into several categories: mating, parenting, territorial, and communication. Raccoons will interact with other raccoons with more than 200 different sounds, and purring is one of them.
Purring in Raccoons
Raccoons will purr as a defense mechanism and a warning sound that they can be dangerous if provoked. Purring is generally accompanied by visual cues like a baring of teeth and claws, stiff posture, and raised fur.
Purring is also heard between mothers and their young. Kits sound very similar to a kitten when their mother is caring for them and licking them. Adults also will use purring to communicate satisfaction and happiness, like when they are with their young or eating.
Other Sounds Raccoons Make
Bark and Growl Combination
Raccoons use a combination of barks and growls to express excitement or communicate with other raccoons. You’ll sometimes hear it when they’re consuming a big meal.
They’ll also use the sound when they’re threatened or stressed. For example, if they’re cornered and in danger, they’ll use this noise to communicate that they will come out fighting to scare the predator. You’ll also hear the vocalization when a mother has lost sight of her babies and is trying to find them.
A bark by itself, which sounds remarkably like the sound a dog makes, is generally used to express excitement or to warn intruders out of their territory.
When a raccoon is scared or threatened, it’ll make a hissing sound to scare away the threat. You might hear them do this to scare you, your dog, or your cat away! However, mother raccoons will also do it if a male raccoon is dangerously close to her babies. This shows the male raccoon that she’s serious, and he’ll back off.
Chittering can be described as a combination of purring and clicking noises made by the raccoon’s teeth, throat, and saliva glands.
A mother raccoon will make a chittering sound when she’s talking to her babies. Researchers believe it’s a way for mothers to calm their upset or frightened offspring. The babies may then respond with a similar sound to communicate to their mother that they are feeling better.
Raccoons also make this sound when they’re nervous, uncomfortable, or scared. During mating season, females will make a chittering sound to tell males they are ready to breed. Male raccoons are generally solitary; this sound is the only way for them to find a female to mate with.
A screeching sound is generally heard when raccoons are threatened or in distress. It can be quite a loud, high-pitched sound, and you might even hear it if you’re in your house with the windows shut.
Other Ways Raccoons Communicate
Raccoons have other ways of getting their point across outside of making sounds. They express themselves through body language. Facial cues include ears that are back or forward, raised fur along the shoulders and tail, moving eyelids, raised lips to reveal teeth, and wrinkled skin around the muzzle or eyes.
If a raccoon feels it is in danger, it will tend to arch its back, lower its head, and attempt to look larger than it is. It will do this by puffing out its tail.
Raccoons purr, and the noise can sound remarkably like a kitten’s purr. But they also can bark like a dog, chitter to comfort their young, and screech and hiss to warn off predators.
They are vocal animals that make a diverse string of sounds you might not necessarily associate with them. Now, however, you might be able to identify them. Try to observe the raccoon’s antics from the safety of your own home because, as you have learned, they can be very intimidating when they need to be!
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