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Here Are 7 Truly WEIRD Ways Animals Communicate

How Do Animals Communicate?

We know that a very small percentage of what we understand actually comes from words. Whether it’s the tone, body language, or rhythm, they all come together to help communicate a message, whether we are conscious of it or not. Animals also prefer using multiple forms of communication to express how they feel, what they want, or if there’s any danger nearby.

Communication is also very important to successful courtship and reproduction. Here are a couple of ways in which animals communicate with each other. If you’re fascinated by the animal world, well, you’ve come to the right place!

birds communicate
Photo by Janet Griffin from Shutterstock


Back in 1973, Karl Von Frisch won the Nobel Prize mostly because of his work on bee communication. Frisch also observed that bees were “waggling” inside their own hives. As it turns out, bees use this dance-like movement to inform other bees of the direction and distance to important food sources.

Moreover, the study found that when a bee discovers a food source, it heads to the hive and starts doing a dance. During this dance, other bees touch the abdomen. This is a way in which bees communicate with one another about where to find food without having to show it.

Also, the direction and speed of the dance indicate specific geolocation details. However, bees aren’t the only tiny dancers (Elton John would agree) in the animal kingdom. The peacock spider, for instance, drums out a kicking beat with his small legs.

When he gets the attention of lady spiders in his vicinity, he does this little dance with the hope of impressing a special someone. If successful, the female will start to dance in return. On a similar note, when Clark’s grebes, a rare species of North American waterbird, want to attract a mate, they also perform a spectacular dance.

The male and female grebes attempt to synchronize their movements. When they do sync up, they run on water together for up to 20 seconds.

If you want to learn more about how birds communicate, we recommend you check this book.

Color and light

There are plenty of cephalopods that change color to communicate more efficiently. Squid and cuttlefish also use this ability to attract mates or even to indicate that another animal already spoke for them. However, it’s also a technique used to fend off potential rivals and predators.

When one squid changes its color to threaten the other one, it could initiate a vividly colorful stand-off. The two whirl their way through chromatic displays, until one of them decides to back off. Sometimes they are able to multitask, displaying quite a pleasing and attractive color on one side and a more threatening color on the other.

Octopuses, on the other hand, like to use their color-changing capacities more for camouflage and defensive purposes. For instance, if an octopus all of a sudden turns white with black only around their eyes, it means they feel threatened and could attack.

As with dance, color changing is still somehow understandable. We also change color as a form of communication. Just think about the last time you blushed beet-red from embarrassment. Or, imagine someone going pale with fear when they get scared.

As for light, the mantis shrimp possesses some of the most astounding complex color receptors in the world. These also come in handy when communicating with one another. They also use their bodies to communicate, using polarized light that other animals simply cannot see.

This light also bounces off spots on their appendages, known as maxillipeds. They also scatter and arrange the light in ways that could convey information only to other mantis shrimp.

Infrasound and ultrasound

Did you know that African elephants make these sounds that are so low they simply don’t strike the human ear as sounds, or anything above a rumbling vibration? Also known as “infrasound” (which hits below 20 hertz, which is too low for humans to detect), this effective way of communicating could seem rather quiet to humans.

However, researchers gather that one African elephant that makes an infrasound can be easily heard by another one even if they are 175 miles away. On the other end of the spectrum, there’s the tarsier, which is a tiny, big-eyed primate that communicates at the opposite range of elephants.

Tarsiers can easily emit ultrasound frequencies over 20,000 Hertz that are way too high-pitched for the human ear to detect. It is believed to help them communicate over the jungle noise and totally out of range of predators, which makes it ideal for alerting one another of danger.


“African demon mole rat” is as hardcore of a name as a rat could ever hope for. On top of that, they are quite the headbangers. Spending their entire lives underground, they manage to communicate by thumping their heads against the tops of their tunnels, sending intense vibrations through the earth that travel way further than any other noise could.

The pace and intensity of the thumps show different symbols and meanings to their rodent kin.


You must be familiar with electrically charged sea animals such as the electric eel, which is known to use electricity to navigate through murky water, attack the prey, and protect itself from predators. However, there are also species of electric fish that use electricity as a means of communicating.

Weakly electric fish such as the Peters’s elephantnose fish and the black ghost knifefish can easily generate electric fields up to one volt in wattage. They also use these to communicate with other weakly electric fish using their own electroreceptors.

Once an electroreceptor gets a signal, the fish automatically interprets the signal frequency and waveforms to deduce what the sender is trying to tell. When these two fish meet, they can easily tweak their wavelengths to produce similar levels of voltage.

Weakly electric fish are also the only known creatures to carry both electric generators and electroreceptors, which makes them the only animals on the planet with the capacity to communicate through electricity.

easy dog tricks communicate
Photo by The Adaptive from Shutterstock

“Words”, whistles, hums, and growls

We’ve also talked about some incredible examples of nonverbal communication. However, some animals are masters at verbal communication. For instance, dholes are Asian wild dogs that are just like fox wolves and live in packs of 5 to 12.

Unlike their relatives, such as wolves, jackals, foxes, and so on, dholes whistle to communicate. Each and every animal commands up to 35 square miles of land, so they can easily rely on sounds that travel well to holler at their candid pals over huge distances.


The award for the cockiest communicator should go to the splendid fairy-wren of Australia. Fairy-wrens are constantly killed for food by butcher birds, who are known to impale their still-living victims on thorn bushes.

Given their gruesome threat, it would also make sense for fairy-wrens to stay under the radar if their archnemesis is in their region. However, they weirdly tend to do the exact opposite. When a nearby butcher bird vocalizes the intention to communicate, male fairy-wrens instantly answer it in a show of bravado for female fairy wrens.

Scientists call this phenomenon vocal hitchhiking. When a predator is close by, the female fairy-wrens are paying attention, and the males know their audience is actively listening for their devil-may-care intentions.

If you found this article useful, we also recommend checking: Warning: If You See a Red-Collared Dog… You Might Want to Stay Away!

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