Night Sounds of the Australian Bush – Koala Calls

Despite their cute and cuddly appearance, Koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) make one of the most unsettling sounds of the Australian bush! Male koalas produce unusually deep bellowing or grunting vocalizations due to a special sound-producing organ not found in any other land mammal. According to koala researcher Benjamin Charlton “We have discovered that koalas possess an extra pair of vocal folds that are located outside the larynx, where the oral and nasal cavities connect. We also demonstrated that koalas use these additional vocal folds to produce their extremely low-pitched mating calls.”

Both male & female koalas can make types of bellowing calls, though it’s usually made by males looking to attract a mate. They also make a variety of other sounds including snarls, squeaks and screams.

Koala bellowing

Listen to Koala Sounds

The following video contains a spectrogram visualization of some of the audio recordings published below.

SD584a This next audio recording is an example of the deep bellowing, grunting call of a male Koala. Recorded in Benarkin State Forest, Queensland. In the background of this recording you can hear the sound of a Squirrel Glider.

SD584b A variation of the grunting call of a male, this one sounds like deep belching or burping! In the background you can hear Squirrel Glider and Common Brushtail Possum. Recorded in Benarkin State Forest, Queensland.

SD585a A different call type – this is the wailing, screaming call, also called the distress call. Koalas often make this sound when bickering with another koala or disturbed or alarmed by another species. Recorded at Benarkin State Forest, Queensland.

The following recording of a distant male Koala bellowing was made around 1am in the rainforest of Nightcap National Park, NSW.
Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) in the wild, Australia