Squirrels emit ‘silent scream’

They also emit a LOUD scream when hit with a car.

By Julianna Kettlewell
BBC News Online science staff

High-pitched sounds are used by rodents in all sorts of situations
Ground squirrels make an alarm call so high pitched that we cannot even hear it, scientists report in Nature.
While studying the little rodents, researchers noticed that some of them made faint whispering sounds, as if they had lost their voices.

But when these “silent screams” were processed by a bat detector, an abundance of ultrasound was detected.

The researchers believe the whispers might be “secret” alarm calls - that the squirrels’ predators cannot hear.

Breathy rush

It is well documented that bats use ultrasonic calls to locate their prey. But, in other animals, the use of this extremely high-pitched sound is not particularly well understood.

Scientists know that some rodents make ultrasonic noises, but they have never been able to work out exactly what they are for.

The problem is that the sounds are used by rodents in all sorts of situations; and they elicit all sorts of responses. So it is hard for observers to unravel the circumstances under which these calls are used.

Now, at last, researchers have detected an ultrasonic call with, they think, a clear meaning

What’s that noise?

Posted by SPN on 07/29 at 01:57 PM in Science / Technology

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