You may be familiar with the strange sounds of a raccoon without even knowing it. These nocturnal animals are common in cities, suburbs, and forests across almost the entire United States, save for some areas of the American West.
While they are not always commonly seen due to their nocturnal behavior, you may have heard them making their chittering sounds at night.
If you’re hearing sounds at night near you, here’s a quick breakdown of what a raccoon sounds like, as well as some possible soundalikes.
It can be very difficult to say which birds sound like a raccoon since raccoons can make so many different sounds, including growls, purrs, hisses, and others.
With that in mind, this article will focus on the chittering sounds they make and compare them to birds and other wildlife species.
What Does a Raccoon Sound Like?
Before we can get into comparing a raccoon to other backyard wildlife, we need to know what a raccoon sounds like. Raccoons can make multiple different noises, so here is a quick video with examples of raccoon noises:
While the chittering sound is perhaps the most familiar, raccoons do also make purring, growling, and other noises.
Some of their noises sound almost like grinding metal, while others are more gentle.
Do Any Birds Sound Like Raccoons?
The northern flicker, a common woodpecker spread across North America, makes a call that could be confused for a raccoon or another mammal like a groundhog.
Skip ahead 30 seconds into the video linked above. You’ll hear a short chittering sound. Then, click this link and listen to the short call made by a northern flicker in Alaska. There is definitely some similarity between the two calls.
The gentle purrs heard about 2 minutes and 45 seconds into the first video link could be compared to that of a screech owl, except less drawn out.
Screech owls, despite their names, don’t really screech. It’s more of a low, vibrating whinny, like the one about 20 seconds into this video:
The owls that do actually screech are barn owls, and they’re common in areas frequented by people, including cities, farms, and open areas.
Barn owls often make a sharp screeching noise, frequently at night, although these harsh screams don’t waver as much as a raccoon’s chittering calls.
Some blackbird species such as grackles make harsh, almost metallic noises. These could potentially be confused with the grating noises such as the ones heard about two minutes and eight seconds into this video.
What Other Wildlife Species Sound Similar to a Raccoon?
Other mammals can sound like raccoons. Squirrels such as red squirrels make a chattering noise as an alarm call. If you’ve ever been hiking through an area that red squirrels frequent, you’re likely to have heard it.
Or how about a groundhog, also known as a woodchuck or even a whistle pig? They make very similar noises to raccoons and are present from the Great Plains states eastward.
While people associate frogs with a croak or a “ribbit,” they make wavering sounds that could be confused with a raccoon, squirrel, or other mammals. Take this call of the gray tree frog, for example.
What About a Mimic?
Some birds are known to mimic other sounds, from other birds and wildlife to inanimate objects like car alarms and even human voices.
North American mimics include the northern mockingbird, gray catbird, and brown thrasher, along with European starlings.
The brown thrasher can mimic up to 2,000 different songs, according to the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. The National Wildlife Federation reports that each northern mockingbird individual can learn up to 200 different calls in their lifetime.
It’s entirely possible that one of those calls could resemble the noises that a raccoon makes.
Frequently Asked Questions
What Do Raccoons Sound Like?
Raccoons make many different sounds, including chitters, purrs, hisses, and screeches.
For a general idea of some of the different noises that a raccoon makes, click this link.
Are There Any Birds That Sound Like Raccoons?
With all the different sounds that raccoons make, it can be very difficult to know whether you’re hearing a raccoon, a bird, or another wild animal.
Woodpeckers like the northern flicker or owls like the screech owl make perhaps the most similar calls to a raccoon. Mimicking birds like catbirds, mockingbirds, or thrashers could also make similar sounds.
Other animals could easily be confused with a raccoon as well, including the aforementioned groundhog, gray tree frog, or red squirrel.