A short (typically less than a second in duration), sharp, noisy, broadband sound produced by purposefully blowing air through the trunk. Elephants may Snort when they are surprised or annoyed by something, or indignant about something another has done, or during intense social excitement. In these contexts Snorts may be less explosive Trumpets, which are also given in similar contexts. Elephants may also Snort apparently to alert other members of their group to a new situation.

A Snort is audibly distinguishable from the more common Blow or Sneeze (blowing, sneezing, wheezing, and coughing sounds) that appears to be made for the purpose of clearing the nasal passages. A Snort sounds sharper and more purposeful than a Blow and may also be distinguished by context.

Humans snort in similar circumstances.

According to the Cambridge English Dictionary a Snort is an explosive sound made by forcing air up or down the nose; to suddenly express strong feelings of anger, disapproval, or disagreement. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary adds that a snort is used to express scorn, anger, indignation, derision, incredulity or surprise.

References: Berg 1983; Leong et al 2003; Stoeger-Horwath et al 2007; Poole 2011. (Full reference list)

This behavior occurs in the following context(s): Affiliative, Avoidance, Conflict & Confrontation, Social Play, Submissive


Context: Conflict & Confrontation (1)

Little E is 3 days old. Allomother Lorato follows after Mama Little E and Little E. She is concerned about the car and exhibits Tail-Raising, Chin-Up and then Head-Shaking associated with a Snort. (Masai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Conflict & Confrontation (2)

Latino walks toward car and must see someone out of it as she Head-Shakes and Snorts. (Masai Mara, Kenya)


Context: Conflict & Confrontation (3)

A group of elephants is feeding around a lugga when all are surprised by a warthog running past. A pulsating rumble is made by the tuskless female while running. A calf is in the lugga and several females are running to rescue it. There is a lot of rumbling and listening.

An adolescent male Redirects-Aggression and turns and Charge at the vehicle while Foot-Scuffing and giving a Snort (attempt at Trumpet-Blast) for added effect. Then he displays Standing-Tall and Ear-Spreading. Notice that when he Charges he touches himself on his face (Touch-Self) as if slightly Apprehensive. (Masai Mara, Kenya)