Hyena sounds galore
Thanks for trying, Zoomie!!
As in all intelligent social species, the hierarchy and bonds between animals in the clans require sophisticated communication skills. And indeed, the nocturnal spotted hyena has an incredibly rich vocal repertoire of calls that they use in communication.
The giggle is a high pitch, staccato sound that is not communicating a good time. In fact, it is commonly produced by distressed, or submissive, animals in situations where they are both excited and conflicted between approaching and leaving the situation.
The whoop is a distance communication call that the hyenas use to announce their presence when they are out of visual contact. Each hyena also has its unique and stereotyped whoop, so that whoops can also be used for individual recognition.
Besides laughs, giggles, yells and whoops, hyenas produce a series of softer sounds that are much more difficult to study in the field. A group of these sounds has been labeled growls and groans and have been observed when adult hyenas approached each other. We concluded that within the classes of groans different communication signals are produced depending on the behavioral context. It is possible that the lower pitch and less musical growls produced to the meaty bone signal a more aggressive approach ("that bone is mine") while the more tonal and higher pitch groan signal signifies a friendly approach ("it is ok little cub").
University of California, Berkeley