Sounds & Calls

Tasmanian Devil (Sarcophilus harrisii)
Koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus)

The Koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) is a stocky, arboreal marsupial native to parts of eastern and south-eatsern Australia. 

What does a koala sound like? Despite their cute and cuddly appearance, koalas make one of the most unsettling sounds of the Australian bush! Koalas make loud, deep bellowing and grunting calls which can be heard from long distances. Both male & female koalas can make these grunting 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.

The vocal anatomy of the koala is highly unusual and enables them to produce sound of much lower frequency than their body size would otherwise indicate. 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.”

Some examples of the low frequency grunts and bellows can be heard below. In the third audio sample below you can hear an example of the ‘screaming call’ which is given when a koala feels agitated or threatened. Female koalas often make this call when they don’t appreciate the over-enthusiatic advances of a male in pursuit of them!

Listen to Koala Sounds

The following video contains a spectrogram visualization of the three different koala calls in the audio recordings published below.


Koala Deep Bellowing

 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.


Koala Grunting Variation

 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.


Koala Wailing & Screaming

 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.

This additional recording of a distant male Koala bellowing was made around 1am in the rainforest of Nightcap National Park, NSW.