When you think of a noisy animal, you probably think of your neighbour's dog barking at 2am. But some animals can make sounds louder than a gunshot, sirens or even a rocket launch.


The human ear can handle up to 120dB before permanent damage is done, but any sound over 110dB can be dangerous, even for short periods.

Take a look through our gallery of some of the noisiest animals around, and the ones you might want to avoid if you don't want to damage your hearing.

Howler monkey - 90dB

Howler monkey mouth open on branch
A black howler monkey (Alouatta caraya) photographed in Belize. Photo by Getty Images

Black howler monkeys have long beards, thick hair and a grumpy attitude. Their howls can be heard from 3km away, and are meant to act as a warning for other groups of howler monkeys to stay away.

Domestic dog - 113dB

A golden retriever dog barking
Golden retrievers have the loudest dog bark, according to Guinness World Records. Its bark has been measured at a whopping 113dB, which is louder than a rock concert. Photo by Getty Images

Dog barks are generally pretty loud. But the record for the loudest bark is held by a golden retriever called Charlie, who lives in Australia. His bark was recorded hitting a massive 113.1dB back in 2012.

Check out a news story about Charlie from 2012.

Lion - 114dB

A roaring male lion
A male lion (Panthera leo) is pictured roaring at a passing rhino. No indication as to whether the rhino is wearing ear defenders. Photo by Getty Images

Lions have many different ways to communicate, including purring, growling and meowing. But their roar is fearsome, reminding everyone within 8km that they are nearby, and probably quite hungry.

Take a listen to an amazing lion roar.

Greater bulldog bat - 140dB

Yellow bat face
A greater bulldog bat (Noctilio leporinus), photographed in Ecuador. Photo by Alamy

The great bulldog bat, also known as the fishing bat, is one of the loudest bat species. They can emit echolocation signals up to 140dB, which help them hunt for prey. This also makes them louder than exploding fireworks.

Watch the great bulldog bat hunt using its echolocation.

Tiger pistol shrimp - 210dB

A shrimp on a rock
The recently-discovered tiger pistol shrimp (Alpheus bellulus) can hit the barely-believable volume of 210dB. Photo by Getty Images

This tiny shrimp can drown out a gunshot at one hundred paces, despite only being 4 to 5cms in length. They make their noise by smashing together their claws (chela), which makes a loud sound followed by a bang. Underwater, this powerful sound wave can knock out or even kill prey outright.

Check out how these shrimp use their extreme noise weapon to hunt.

Sperm whale - 233dB

Sperm whale swimming underwater
A sperm whale (Physeter macrocephalus) photographed swimming underwater. Photo by Getty Images

The sperm whale is the largest of the toothed whales, at an average adult size of 15m in length. This huge mammal can vocalise at over 230dB underwater, which is louder than a rocket launch or a plane taking off.

More images from BBC Science Focus:

Loudest relative to size: Lesser water boatman - 99dB

Small bug from below
A live lesser water boatman (Micronecta scholtzi) in all of its glory. Photo by ExaVolt/Wikipedia

The male lesser water boatman can make a sound as loud as a passing train just by rubbing its penis on its abdomen. It produces this intense sound in order to attract a mate, but considering the species is smaller than a pea, it is probably more likely to deafen them.

More like this

And finally... the most annoying

Bird with beak open
This is the superb lyrebird (Menura novaehollandiae). The ability of this bird to mimic some complex sounds is a true wonder of nature. Photo by Jouan Rius/Gamma-Rapho/Getty Images

Ok, so a lyrebird is not exactly the loudest bird on the planet. But with its mimicry of natural and artificial sounds, it is very unique. The lyrebird sings its own songs, and combines this with other bird song it has picked up. Captive birds have been recorded singing such classics as 'car alarm' and 'chainsaw'... which is probably not going to attract many mates.


James CutmorePicture Editor, BBC Science Focus

James Cutmore is the picture editor of BBC Science Focus Magazine, researching striking images for the magazine and on the website. He is also has a passion for taking his own photographs