What Does a Polar Bear Sound Like?

A polar bear sounds like grunts, roars, moans, growls, and chuffs. Their sounds may also include hissing, jaw-chomping, blowing, throaty rumbling, whimpering, braying, and smacking. Their sound intensity varies depending on the situation. In other words, how they sound depend on their mood swings.

Do you know that polar bears roar like lions or tigers when in a good mood? Miserably, they end up roaring like the sound of an elephant. That sounds humorous. What do they sound like when they are in a bad mood? Let’s indulge in the sounds of polar bears, which predict a lot about their behavior and mood.

What Does a Polar Bear Sound Like?

Everyone knows that cows moo and ducks are quack. But what does a polar bear exactly sound like? Interestingly, we cannot categorize the sound of a polar bear within one word.

According to the Polar Bears Fact channel’s research, polar bears use various unique and distinct sounds.

From chuffing to crying and humming to growling, they do not just keep using one unique sound. For example, when they are angry, they show anger with the sound of their teeth – chuckling. And what do they sound like when they quarrel? They try to resolve their disputes with males by creating sounds like throaty rumbling and whimpering.

Similarly, polar bears communicate with their siblings with grunts and growls. Here is an amazing YouTube video that will help you to distinguish a few known sounds of a polar bear.

Are Polar Bears Loud?

According to the news report from Naturefrom Canada, polar bears are not loud. They will not sound like a lion who roars in the jungle and every other animal feels threatened. However, polar bears are sometimes loud. They are pretty vocal when they are angry, hungry, distressed, and content.

Otherwise, polar bears use their unique “I’m Happy” sounds. Do you know female polar bears become very loud and defensive when they come out of their dens? Actually, they try to protect themselves and their cubs by scaring away all threats. That’s why they open their mouths to chomp, chuff, and growl loudly.

Why Do Polar Bears Hiss?

polar bear

According to a useful study by the World Wildlife Organization, different sounds of polar bears mean different things and feelings. The meanings and purposes of their sounds are different.

Polar bears hiss for some specific reasons. They hiss when they are challenged by any other polar bear. It’s a warning signal to the other bear symbolizing, “Please stop! I’m not in a good mood“. In fact, the polar bears try to avoid a physical altercation.

That’s why they hiss to signal the other bear to back off or respect their space. Additionally, hissing helps them to avoid physical injuries. It’s a part of their behavioral repertoire. Polar bears may also hiss when they are in extreme distress.

How Do Polar Bears Communicate With Each Other?

Vocalization is one of the best ways for polar bears to communicate with each other. They use sounds to convey their intentions and emotions.

Here is how they vocalize differently according to their sex and age, according to the report of SeaWorld organization:

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1. Adults Vocalizations

Adult polar bears use vocalizations more than female or old polar bears. They communicate when they feel threatened, or they are agitated by someone or something. Their sounds mostly include:

  • Chuffing
  • Champing of teeth
  • Growling
  • Hissing

The bears’ facial expressions also clearly show that they are angry or agitated.

2. Cubs Vocalizations

Cubs vocalize more often than young bears and mothers. Obviously, they are kids, and they express their emotions more often. There are diverse reasons behind their vocalizations. Their sounds may include:

  • Throaty Rumbling
  • Lip Smacking
  • Squalling
  • Whimpering
  • Hissing

Cubs may also communicate through crying and screaming vocalizations. Their vocalizations change as they age.

3. Mothers Vocalizations

Mostly, mothers vocalize with braying sounds. They may also warn their cubs with the help of chuffing sounds. According to scientists, they vocalize chuff sounds loudly in order to locate their cubs and get closer to them.

Other Communication Ways of Polar Bears

Apart from communicating with the help of vocalizations, polar bears may also communicate with their body language and scent marking. With the help of body language, such as postures and movements, they communicate dominance, submission, and aggression.

Scent marking with urine and other secretions is another unique way of communicating with other polar bears in the territory. They mostly communicate through smell, touch, and sight. For example, you probably would have seen a male polar bear with averted eyes, a closed mouth, and a head down approaching another bear.

Basically, it shows that the male polar bear is trying to initiate a playfight. They also try to stand on their hind legs and push one another with their paws. Similarly, a mother polar bear uses her paws, body, or muzzle to protect, punish, and comfort her cubs.

What Other Animals Sound Exactly Like Polar Bears?

polar bear

There are no animals that sound exactly like polar bears. Some of the sounds of a polar bear may share similarities with those of other bear species.

For instance, the deep and resonant roars of polar bears might match the roars of other bear species like grizzly bears. However, they have differences in their pitch and intensity.

How To Decode Polar Bear Vocalizations in The Dens?

Polar Bears International organization helped us a lot to decide on polar bears’ vocalizations in the dens. Do you have any idea what the sounds of mother polar bears and their cubs actually mean? The reporter, Chad Van Gessel, states that the behavior of polar bears can be observed and decoded by listening to and decoding their sounds carefully.

The results said polar bears are known as quiet creatures. Mother polar bears are less vocal than males. But, the Cubs did not get this memo. The sounds of mothers and cubs in the dense were characterized into five primary groups:

1. Distress

Cubs make sounds of crying and screaming in the following situations:

  • When their mother is not near them.
  • When their mother shifts her position.
  • When their mother unintentionally moved them.

Despite the above scenarios, cubs may also cry when they don’t get their way.

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2. Discomfort

When cubs are feeling discomfort, they moan and groan. They may also make obscure vocalizations. When the cubs are not in a mood, then these sounds are often heard. They may also make these types of vocalizations when they are extremely uncomfortable.

3. Comfort

This group of vocalizations sounds a little cute. We call them “hmm, mmm, and uhm.” These sounds are heard when the cubs are sleeping peacefully, or they are being nursed properly. This has a bit of cub sound content, according to our interpretation.

4. Nursing Attempt

These vocalizations are heard when the cubs try to get the mother’s teat to nurse but lose it. They may also make these groups of sounds when they initiate suckling but are disrupted.

5. Nursing

This is one of the best-documented vocalizations. We call nursing vocalizations “humming.” You probably laugh after hearing this type of vocalization because it sounds exactly like a car. A car with a bad engine that is not catching sounds like a nursing group of vocalizations. In reality, the cubs make these sounds when they are drinking.

What Are the Maternal Vocalizations Of Polar Bears? Explain

polar bear

Maternal vocalizations are special types of sounds that the mother polar bears use to communicate with their cubs, establish bonds, and provide reassurance. According to the study by Polar Bears International organization, maternal vocalizations are split into the following three groups:

1. Rest

Breathing and snoring are included in the “Rest” group. These types of vocalizations are not technically grouped as vocalizations. However, the mother creates them when she is at ease or in a super calm mood.

2. Stress

Heavy breathing and panting are included in the “Stress” group of maternal vocalizations. Chuffing, a kind of gruff breathing or exhalation, is also part of this group. We interpret all these sounds as “Stress Vocalizations.”

These sounds were detected when the mother was navigating or recovering from stressful circumstances. For example, when the cubs are excessively crying or screaming, mothers take heavy breaths or pant.

3. Grooming

This is a limited group of vocalizations that includes only the licking sounds of a mother. When these sounds were perceived, it was inferred that the mother was possibly engaged in grooming herself or her kids. These sounds indicate a state of comfort.

What Does a Polar Bear Cub Sound Like?

According to the report of the JSTOR organization, the vocalizations of polar bears were recorded in Svalbard, Norway. The scientists call the sounds of polar bears “humming.” The recording was only three minutes long. The scientists found the following facts about the sound:

  • The cubs’ sounds had 30 to 50 pulses.
  • The duration of the pulses was 0.05 (SE = 0.002) seconds.
  • The frequency of the sound with great energy was 0.28 kHz (SE = 0.06).
  • The maximum frequency was 0.85 kHz (SE = 0.15).

These results also show that the purpose of rhythmic vocalization remains unclear. Yet, it could be connected to feelings of ease and satisfaction. Their mesmeric sounds could also be aimed at triggering milk release from the mother.

The report states that the vocalizations of cubs are quite distinct. Their sounds include throaty rumbling, lip smacking, whimpering, squalling, and hissing. Also, when they grunt, they sound like they are cooing and chuckling when they are nursing.

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Here is the audio footage of what a young polar bear cub sounds like.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the polar bear sound called?

There is no specific name designated for the polar bear sound. You can label their sounds according to their pitch and intensity. Every sound is different and unique. Some are called growling and cramping, and some are called chuffing and hissing. Not just this, many other names are given to their sounds according to their type and quality.

Are polar bears shy to make sounds?

Polar bears are shy animals. They are shy, especially around other bears and humans. That’s why they try to avoid confrontations. However, when we talk about whether they are shy about making sounds, they are not as shy as we think. According to studies, polar bears are not typically shy about making sounds when necessary.

Mostly, they make sounds during certain social interactions or communication situations. However, they are generally not as vocal as some other species of bears. Polar bears may not use sounds as extensively as other animals.

Do polar bears make sounds to protect their territory?

No, polar bears do not make any special sounds to protect their territory. This is because they are not territorial animals. Their territories are also so large that they can’t protect their boundaries. However, they may establish temporary territories. But, that’s not specific and is common in all polar bears.

What should I do when I hear a bear growling?

When you hear a polar bear growling:

  • Stay Calm: Try to remain composed and avoid sudden movements.
  • Assess the Situation: Determine the bear’s distance and behavior.
  • Back Away Slowly: Create distance without turning your back.
  • Speak Calmly: In a low voice, let the polar bear know you’re human.
  • Avoid Eye Contact: Polar bears might interpret direct eye contact as a threat.
  • Retreat Slowly: Keep facing the polar bear as you move away. Don’t run!

Why do polar bears make whining and huffing sounds?

Polar bears whine whenever they feel anxious, stressed, or in pain. Plus, they huff when they try to communicate with other bears. This is often used as a warning that a bear is nearby.


We can say that the vocalizations and communication ways of polar bears are still not yet understood well. It’s still on its way of research and curiosity. However, many zookeepers and research communities are trying to find accurate information about the sounds of polar bears to understand their behavior. We hope one day, the sounds of polar bears will be distinguished just like the moo moo of cows and quack quack of ducks. Till that time, stay tuned for future updates!

I hope you like our topic and our extensive research about what a polar bear sounds like. If you have any specific recorded sound of a polar bear, kindly share that with us.

Happy reading!

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