Finely Tuned Auditory Systems

The Creation Abounds With The Wonder Of Hearing

The sense of hearing, otherwise known as the auditory sense, is something shared between humans and most other animals. The questions that most often arise on this topic are: which animal has the best hearing, and for what purpose do most animals use their auditory senses? Understanding how and why animals use their ears in their natural environment can help create a deeper understanding of the natural world, as well as of each creature’s place in it.

picture of an owl head


The eardrum of an owl allows them to find small animals – like mice – in the darkest nighttime conditions. The owl will rarely have to worry about suffering from hearing loss thanks to its large ear holes, which are slightly staggered for optimal auditory understanding and maximum protection.

An owl can hear the smallest sounds in the dark and uses the minor difference in the ears to translate the sound and find its location. It takes an owl less than one second to hear a sound, determine the location of the sound, and determine if the sound is from prey. After that slight period of time, the owl can attack the sound of a mouse or other small animal. Due to this sharp sense of sound, owls are exceptionally effective nighttime predators.


Another animal that will never need to worry about hearing aid prices is the dolphin. Dolphins are like submarines (or perhaps, submarines are like dolphins) in that they use echolocation (also called sonar) to map the area around them and navigate through murky water that is difficult to see through.

The dolphins will make a chirping or clicking sound in the water. When the sound is reflected back at them, they are able to determine the size, location and nature of an object around them. The dolphin can even identify other animals through echolocation and determine if the creature is a threat, a food source, a potential mate, or some other animal they are indifferent towards. A dolphin’s hearing is so sharp that even an object as small as a coin is identifiable from up to 70 meters away.

bat spread out on table


Like dolphins, bats are known to use echolocation to find the insects and fruits that they like to eat. However, unlike dolphins – which use echolocation in murky waters – bats use echolocation in the air as their primary way of seeing. Bats are nocturnal, and the sound of their chirps bouncing off plants, other animals, and insects allows a bat to find and locate insects from up to 20 feet away in complete darkness. Since bats are constantly using sound to find their way around, they naturally require strong auditory senses. This helps them locate and determine the distance to their prey all through the night.


Cats of all sizes, from the small house cat to the largest tigers and lions, are among the animals with the best hearing. Not only are cats able to pick up on much higher frequencies than most other animals, they even are able to move their ears to catch the sound better! Cats can rotate their ears 180 degrees, making it possible to locate and distinguish different sounds with the utmost precision. By rotating their ears, cats pick up the sound much better than most other animals. It provides them with the ability to locate prey and determine whether to attack or whether the animal may be too large.

image of an elephant


Many might expect elephants to have excellent hearing due to the notoriously large size of their ears. The fact is, elephants do have excellent senses, including their auditory sense. Elephants not only hear sounds at very low frequencies, they are also able to hear through their whole body! The elephant’s trunk, ears and feet are all part of the system that makes up an elephant’s auditory senses. The receptors in the trunk and feet allow elephants to sense vibrations that are so low that the sound is almost impossible to distinguish for most observers, like humans. By having these low receptors, elephants are able to pick up the sound of thunder storms and rain from miles away. This allows the elephants to find and move towards water, an essential trait for survival in hot climates.

Tiger Moths

Many species of moth have developed an acute sense of hearing which allows them to determine when a bat is locating them. The sound of a bat’s chirping for echolocation alerts most moths and allows them a chance to try and escape before being eaten. Unlike most other moths, however, the tiger moth in particular has taken this defense a step further. Upon hearing a bat’s echolocation chirps, the tiger moth will make clicking sounds to break up the echolocation and make it difficult for bats to locate them. The clicking noises disrupt the initial sound so that bats become confused with the sound and miss the moth. In modern parlance, you could say that the tiger moth “jams” the echolocation signal of the bat.

The animals with the best hearing in the world have a truly amazing auditory sense. Despite the fact that animals around the world have better hearing that most humans, the animal who has the best hearing of all is generally considered to be the owl, with dolphins placed second.