Is It Possible For A Hyena To Laugh As A Form Of Communication?


In the animal kingdom, hyenas are notorious for their vocalizations, which include a range of sounds used for communication. While the laughter-like sound emitted by hyenas is often referred to as ‘laughing,’ it is not a sign of amusement or humor, but rather serves as a form of communication within their social groups.

Understanding Hyena Vocalizations

Hyenas use a variety of vocalizations, including whooping calls, growls, and the famous ‘laughter.’ The ‘laughter’ sound is typically heard during social interactions, such as greeting, bonding, or establishing dominance. These vocalizations play a crucial role in maintaining social cohesion and hierarchy within hyena clans.

The Function of ‘Laughter’ in Hyenas

Research has shown that the ‘laughter’ sound in hyenas conveys information about the animal’s identity, social status, and emotional state. It helps reinforce social bonds and maintain hierarchy within the group. Additionally, studies have revealed that different variations of the ‘laughter’ sound can signify specific messages, such as submission or playfulness, aiding in the nuanced communication among hyenas.

Comparison to Human Laughter

While hyena ‘laughter’ may sound similar to human laughter, it serves a completely different purpose. Human laughter is primarily associated with amusement and positive emotions, whereas hyena ‘laughter’ is more about establishing relationships and communication within the group. Understanding this distinction highlights the diverse ways in which different species communicate and interact within their social structures.


Overall, while hyenas may ‘laugh’ as a form of communication, it is essential to understand the context and function of this vocalization within their social structure. By studying hyena vocalizations, researchers can gain valuable insights into the complex social dynamics of these fascinating animals, shedding light on the intricate ways in which they communicate and interact with one another to maintain group cohesion and hierarchy.