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: Social Play (1)

There has just been a big drama in this group with one family trying to kidnap a newborn from another. The elephants are all worked up. Some adolescents come over to our car engaging with us with a few Head-Dip and Head-Dip-Touch-Ground playful threats. One reverses with a Snort and a half Head-Shake. (Amboseli, Kenya)