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Speaks Fluent Animal
aka: Talking To Animals
Like all good crimefighters, Hawkman regularly talks with his network of stool pigeons
"Are fish really worth talking to? Our genius scientists taught a gorilla sign language, and do you know what we learned? 'Banana is pretty! Banana make gorilla happy!'"
A character is able to talk to animals.
In the prototypical version, which usually ends up being the main character and the focus of the show, this means having full-on conversations with them, rendered in English via the Translation Convention
. Most of the time we will, at some point, be shown the Translation Convention
explicitly by showing the character making, say, squirrel sounds back and forth with a squirrel. Oddly, he or she can also converse verbally with animals that don't use vocal communication at all.
Note that this makes every animal in the world qualify as a Speech Impaired Animal
of sorts, since they're all at least intelligent enough to use a language. This makes carnivorousness morally sketchy
for both animals and humans. Don't expect this to be addressed one bit.
(Imagine what would happen if one of these characters ended up in a slaughterhouse!) Not only can someone who speaks Animal talk to every kind of animal, but every kind of animal usually seems to speak the same Animal Talk
It seems as if the presence of someone who speaks Animal heightens an animal's intelligence. They will verbally express an understanding of human actions that the animal's own actions up to then gave no indication.
The ability to talk to animals is also a common superpower. In the early days, it was fairly common, but due to the perceived lameness of Aquaman-style "talking to fish", it's now most often given to the Super Team
's Wacky Guy
or Plucky Comic Relief
as a sort of joke power
. It's more useful when you can command the animals you communicate with
; sometimes, the communication part is left out, and they can only really command animals to do things, rather than actually converse with them. This tends to avoid the problems mentioned above, in that you might be able to assume the animals are simply being compelled to do the commands by whatever magic or Applied Phlebotinum
gave the character the powers in the first place.Sometimes a character can make both work for them.
Speaking of which, unrelated shows with lots of magic or Applied Phlebotinum
running around can sometimes result in a device that can replicate these kinds of effects for a one episode story.
This is Level 4 on the Sliding Scale of Animal Communication
Don't confuse this ability with Talking Animal
, which is when an animal can speak a human language. Also, note that if you shapeshift into an animal
or a Beast Man
, you'll usually learn how to speak Animal Talk
too. See also Animal Eye Spy
, where the character can see through the eyes of an animal. Compare Suddenly Fluent in Gibberish
which is an ability to speak gibberish or some other made up language.
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Anime and Manga
- In the badass commanding-animals-in-battle category, Shido Fuyuki of Get Backers. The manga goes into a little more detail: apparently, any member of the Maryuudo (i.e., Amon Natsuki, who was asked to help rescue Madoka by monkeys) can talk to animals, but it is Shido's tribe, the Shiki, that has the ability to awaken the animals' ability to think and act on the level of humans. There's also the Maryuudo's mortal enemies, the Kiryuudo, who communicate with and command bugs.
- Belldandy in Ah! My Goddess even makes sure to use polite honorifics when talking to animals. Or to some inanimate objects.
- Chopper from One Piece. Not only is he able to talk to just reindeer, he can talk to other animals as well. Although he is a reindeer himself, he is qualified because he had eaten a devil's fruit which allows him to become semi human.
- Apis would also qualify.
- Mermaids can naturally talk to fish, and Jinbe also displays this ability (remarked to be unusual for a fishman).
- In one episode of the original Astro Boy, a naturalist develops a machine that can control animals using ultrasonic waves to affect their brains. He uses it in an attempt to stop a land developer from destroying a forest, first by attempting to assassinate the construction company's executives & their families with things like attack dogs & raging bulls, & when that fails, using hordes of every animal imaginable to overrun the city, before he is killed by the title character (don't feel too bad, he was about to throw a bomb into a room full of hostages). In later versions of the series, Astro's little sister, Uran has the ability to communicate with animals, presumably based on the same technology, which she uses at one point to convince fellow Tezuka manga star Leo/Kimba the White Lion not to eat a terrified schoolboy.
- Prince Cab in Transformers Super God Masterforce.
- Fresh Pretty Cure! has Inori gaining the ability to talk to animals (and Chiffon, even thought she doesn't really qualifies as an animal) during her power-up episode.
- Panda's owner, Mimi, in Hamtaro. In fact, she's the only human able to talk to the Ham-Hams and understand their speech.
- Though in some instances during Laura's diary entries, it seems almost as if Laura and Hamtaro can communicate telepathically, as sometimes Hamtaro mentally responds to what Laura is thinking as she writes her diary, and Hamtaro explicitly states that he can't read.
- In Full Metal Panic, apparently Sousuke has a great affinity to animals. Putting together numerous different canons (the Light Novels, manga, anime, etc.), it would appear that he can communicate and has some understanding when they speak. In the manga, there's the instance where he takes care of "Mousuke," a highly intelligent little mouse that is extremely attached to him. He's later shown having a conversation with Mousuke, which Kaname witnesses. She's very bewildered and unnerved that Sousuke is... talking to a mouse. In the novels, Sousuke is also shown to be able to communicate with Shiro ("Whitey"), a white tiger that he grew up with. He can understand Shiro's growls and even translate them to Kaname. And in the anime, while Sousuke is disguised as Bonta-kun, he's able to communicate with the disturbing Pony man (who only says "pony pony pony" while wearing his mask) which no one else seems to be able to understand.
- In Dot And The Kangaroo and its sequels, Dot can talk to animals when she eats a special root called "the fruit of understanding."
- Miyabi "Professor" Oomichi of GA Geijutsuka Art Design Class appeared to be able to communicate with the chickens on the campus.
- Since it's necessary to resolve his curse, and came about because of the curse, Junpei, the protagonist of Nyan Koi!!, can understand cats. The cats can understand him too.
- Harima from School Rumble.
- Yaiba is apparently able to speak with tigers, gorillas, vultures and owls.
- Alice/Mokuren in Please Save My Earth was a "Kiches Sarjalian," who had multiple powers, including the ability to speak telepathically with animals.
- Tadayasu Sawaki, the main character of Moyashimon can communicate with bacteria, yeasts, and other microorganisms, in addition to being able to see them with the naked eye.
- Pokémon Special. Being blessed by the Viridian Forest, both Yellow and Lance can read the minds and hearts of Pokémon through telepathy.
- Also, Dr. Footprint can accurately tell what a Pokémon is thinking by simply looking at its footprints alone, like when a Staravia was about to drop him and when a Drapion wanted to be free of its Jerk Ass trainer.
- Hibiki Ganaha of The iDOLM@STER can talk to her pets.
- As mentioned above, Aquaman Telepathically Commands ALL aquatic life. Doesn't ask, Telepathically Commands. However, many of them are quite stupid. Shark: "This is a nice hole." When Aquaman rescues them from a tuna net: "Let us look at the hole some more."
- Hawkman can talk to birds. Given the kind of stick Aquaman's been given though, he keeps quiet about it these days.
- Ant-Man's cybernetic helmet lets him talk to ants.
- Lampshaded in the classic Spider Man story, "The Sinister Six"; at one point J. Jonah Jameson starts shouting at a spider in his office, thinking that Spider-Man can communicate with spiders the way Ant-Man communicates with ants. The rest of the Daily Bugle staff just look at him thinking that the old man has finally lost it.
- Also parodied in a recent Marvel Adventures Spider-Man story, in which Spider-Man forces a bank-robber to surrender by making hand gestures, announcing, "I'm summoning the spiders. I'm Spider-Man and you are making me mad. I'm summoning the spiders, they will come to my call. Hundreds of them, thousands, all of them at my command. (Beat) Because I'm SPIDER-MAN!"
- Talking to animals is one of the lesser-known powers of Wonder Woman, though this is sometimes just written as her being a Friend to All Living Things.
- Freshmen had Charles Levy, or The Green Thumb, who can talk to plants. The whole "eating things that can talk" thing is brought up, and since he's a vegetarian ol'Charles is up shit creek. And his ficus thinks he's cheating on her.
- Norbert Sykes, hero of The Badger.
- Danielle Moonstar from the Marvel Comics New Mutants had a secondary mutation before secondary mutations were cool. Apart from (originally) manifesting people's worst fears holographically, she could communicate on a low-level with animals; basically furry creatures automatically liked her. Sub-bonus in that she soon joins the team with Rahne, a mutant who can shapeshift into a wolf, so when Rahne transforms, they can communicate over long distances.
- Squirrel Girl, also from Marvel Comics, has the ability to talk to squirrels. Among other many vaguely defined talents. Oddly, the squirrels have the ability to talk with the reader.
- It was revealed in her spin-off comic that Gran'ma Ben (AKA Rose) from the Bone comics could speak to dogs.
- In the "Mork Whisperer" arc of Strontium Dog, one of the bounty hunters' targets turns out to be able to communicate flawlessly with any animal, particularly morks. He doesn't get along too well with humans.
- Parodied in The Far Side with a scientist that invents a dog translator. Immediately he discovers that "woof! woof! woof!" means "eh! eh! eh!"
- Buddy Baker aka Animal Man can communicate with whatever animal species he's borrowing abilities from.
- Plant Elementals (i.e. Black Orchid and Swamp Thing) can communicate with animals that are a large part of the forest's ecosystem.
- Ex Machina: Mitchell Hundred's "arch enemy" Jack Pherson had this power. It was not played for laughs at all.
- Golden Age Black Canary could use her sonic powers to hypnotically control birds.
- The modern version can still do this to an extent, but instead of controlling or communicating, she can just summon birds, similar to Batman's Ultrasonic Bat Signal in 'Batman Year One''.
- Detective Chimp actually gained the power to talk to all animals (along with significantly slowed aging) from the fountain of youth. He mostly communicates with Humans, though.
- The New 52 version of Silver Banshee can speak any verbal language, which she demonstrates by talking to doves.
- The Horsewoman in Demon Knights can communicate with horses through a force in the blood that binds all animals together (ie The Red).
- Tara Freemont from Femforce is a size-changing Jungle Princess who can communicate with animals.
- In a blatant example of Furry Confusion, the Donald Duck comic "Making Waves" involves Donald gaining the ability to communicate with non-anthropomorphic birds.
- Fauna in DC Nation has this as one of her powers, and was a bit surprised when she found out Beast Boy didn't. Unlike her Shapeshifting and Beastmaster abilities, she is completely comfortable using it.
- Harry Potter And The Methods Of Rationality actually does address the issues surrounding the Carnivore Confusion that may occur once communication with animals is introduced: Harry, after discovering that he can talk to snakes, becomes a vegetarian, from the fear that all animals may have the level of sapience that snakes seem to have when they are spoken to.
- In Gordy, it is said that anyone can understand animals if they took the time to listen. Although only the two leading kids are able to understand him, only having five seconds of silence with the pig.
- Doctor Dolittle, the 1967 film musical based on the Doctor Dolittle novels. As in the novels, Doctor Dolittle learns how to speak with the animals from his talking parrot. A Translation Convention is not used; conversations are shown taking place in gestures and animal noises, with Dolittle translating the important parts into English for the benefit of his human companions. The meat problem is mentioned: Dolittle explains that he is now a vegetarian because he doesn't like to make a habit of eating his friends, but he doesn't require the same discipline from his human friends.
- Dr Dolittle, the 1998 film starring Eddie Murphy distantly inspired by the Doctor Dolittle books. In this version, Dolittle is a surgeon in modern-day America, and his ability to speak with animals is an innate gift, which his daughter inherits.
- A brief scene in K-Pax has Prot engage in a "conversation" with Dr. Powell's dog and "translate" it for everyone. Of course, like all things in the movie, it's hard to tell if he really can or if he's just crazy.
Folklore and Fairy Tales
- Shows up in tons of folk and Fairy Tales.
- A boy learns to talk to dogs, frogs, and birds, representing three elements or states of matter (earth, water, air).
- A man saves a snake who counsels him to ask for this power as his reward from her father. Only drawback is he can't tell anyone about it, or he'll die. His wife bugs him over a related issue that he finally decides to tell her, but then a passing rooster makes him reconsider and order her to just stop asking. (Well, the original involved him beating her until she stopped, but....)
- Talking with animals is sometimes an unremarkable power, that is, the rather simple hero saves some ants or bees and they say "We'll never forget this!" and come back to help him in the second half of the tale, but his ability to understand this and to later ask them for help is never explained.
- Often leads to treasure. E.g., the boy with the power hears birds talking about how treasure is buried beneath the tree but the humans are too stupid to look.
- In one odd example, a man who gains the ability to talk to all animals talks to two hungry ravens...and kills his horse so they'll have something to eat. Apparently he didn't stop to ask the horse's opinion of this.
- The Doctor Dolittle series of children's books, whose Doctor Dolittle learned how to speak with the animals from his talking parrot. It's an actual plot point that animals have different languages, and just because you can speak to dogs doesn't mean you can speak to, say, crayfish. Dolittle puts lot of effort into learning more languages. It is also established that any human who makes the effort could learn animal tongues.
- Harry Potter gained the power to talk to snakes the first time Big Bad Voldemort tried to kill him. Parselmouths are people who can talk to snakes by hissing at them. When a snake talks to a Parselmouth, they hear the hissing as if it were in their native language.
- Both Ron and Dumbledore use this ability in nice subversions. In the last book, Ron manages to open the Chamber of Secrets by remembering the Parseltongue phrase that Harry had spoken previously, while in the sixth book, Dumbledore is implied to have learnt to understand spoken Parseltongue, but is not capable of actually speaking it.
- In Belgariad, people with the Sha-Dar ability can communicate telepathically with horses. The Disciples of Aldur (and it is implied anybody else who commands the Will and the Word)can also speak with animals, usually ones whose forms they have taken before. Polgara can speak with all birds and Belgarath and Belgarion can fluently speak Wolf. Even Belgarion's son, Geran, learns how to speak Wolf while he's still a toddler.
- In the Mary Poppins books, all babies can talk to animals. Ms. Poppins happens never to lose this ability (a dog informs her of her uncle's laughing fit). Just showed how she was Practically Perfect in Every Way.
- In The Sea of Trolls, Jil is exposed to dragon blood, the magic of which allows her to understand birds. It is not clear whether she can speak back to them, however. Also, this turns out to suck because the birds never have anything worthwhile to say and won't shut up.
- In the Young Wizards series, wizards can communicate with animals because the Speech, the Language of Magic, is sort of the proto-language which all things and creatures can understand. Plus, depending on a wizard's specialty, this can be taken further: Nita, who specializes in living things, can converse with microbes, while Kit, who specializes in inanimate objects, can commune with rocks and TV remote controls.
- In Mercedes Lackey's Tales Of The Five Hundred Kingdoms, drinking dragon's blood gives the ability to understand the speech of animals. Subverted in that many animals lack human intelligence, so they don't say much besides "Run!" or "Hey! Hey! Hey hey! Hey!"
- In The Hobbit, Bard can understand the language of the thrush and therefore knows where a dragon had his one small vulnerability.
- Beorn can also talk with many animals.
- Also from Tolkien, Gandalf can speak several languages, including both Elvish languages, the Dwarvish Alphabet (but not the actual language), Blackspeech, and he can even speak to Eagles and at least understand Wargs. It's vague as to whether or not he can talk to horses. In the movie he talks to a Moth but that's not really canon. And he can also speak The Common Tongue and Rohirrim but everyone speaks the Common Tongue.
- Tolkien's Eagles are as intelligent as anyone else, and they can speak the common tongue, so anyone they want to talk to, can talk to Eagles.
- Radagast, The Brown Wizard.
- Celegorm, son of Fűanor.
- In Piers Anthony's Xanth novels, Dor has the power to communicate with inanimate objects. It is expressly stated that it is his magic that "animates" them. Almost all Xanth humans are born with a magical Talent, but Dor's is impressive enough that he is classed as a "Magician," and presumptive heir to the throne, which is always occupied by a Magician.
- The counterpoint to Dor is Grundy the Golem who can speak to any living thing (including plants). Unlike Dor, his talent is not considered Magician caliber due to the fact that anyone who tried hard enough could theoretically learn the language of any living thing. The trope is somewhat justified here due to the magic of Xanth making every living thing at least somewhat intelligent.
- In fact, at one point after the Sea Hag captures him, he even teaches a beetle a few sentences of dragon language so it can pass on a message for him.
- The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness: Torak. Only with wolves, ravens, and bears though.
- In Life, the Universe and Everything, after Arthur Dent learns how to fly, he also teaches himself the language of birds. This turns out to be a mistake, since all they talk about is nuts, bugs, sex and power-to-lift ratios. This means he's constantly surrounded by their inane chatter, but he ignores them as much as possible.
- In Charlottes Web, Fern is able to understand what the animals are saying when they talk to each other, although she is not showing speaking to them herself.
- Tamora Pierce's Immortals quartet is based around the principle of the heroine being able to speak to animals. Later she can even turn into them. At one point she even addresses the meat-eating dilemma, saying that after being hunted in both deer and goose form, she was down to only being able to eat chicken, mutton, and fish.
- Grizzly of the Seekers Of Truth can communicate with animals to a degree, but animals generally don't have much to say, boiling down to "Hey, get off my branch!", "Come have sex with me!", or "Holy crap, what was that?". He usually uses this to get large, angry animals to leave hikers alone. (Of course, that's not to say that talking to animals doesn't occasionally come in very, very handy.)
- In Percy Jackson and the Olympians Grover, a Satyr, can speak to all animals and Percy can speak to horses, zebras and hippocampi, as horses (and their counterparts) were created by his father, Poseidon.
- Percy can also speak to sea creatures. Pretty self explanatory.
- In Spindle's End, a "Sleeping Beauty" retelling by Robin McKinley, this is the last of the 21 blessings bestowed by fairy godmothers on the princess on her christening day.
- In Artemis Fowl it's stated that the Fairy gift of tongues extends at least to dogs (and it is implied to some other animals). Confirmed in The Time Paradox, where Holly can not only talk to all of the animals in a zoo, she can talk to all of them at once.
- In Children of the Red King, Billy has this power. It's harder than talking to humans, though, because animals tend to think in different ways and still seem to be generally less intelligent.
- Nakata from Haruki Murakami's Kafka on the Shore uses his ability to understand cats to find people's lost pets.
- In Robert E Howard's Conan The Barbarian story "Beyond the Black River", some men can talk to some animals, "Only such as remember Jhebbal Sag." Fortunately for Conan and Balthus, as one of them can command such animals to attack the two of them.
- In Moses, Man of the Mountain, after reading the book at Koptos Moses knows, among other things, "the language of the birds of the air, the creatures that people the deep and what the beasts of the wild all said". However, he's never seen using this power until the very end of his life.
- In The Girl with the Silver Eyes by Willo Davis Roberts, Katie Welker can speak to and understand (telepathically) cats and dogs, among other powers.
- In Shannon Hale's Books of Bayern series, people born with various gifts can gain Elemental Powers by learning the languages of the elements. Those who learn the "languages" of animals, trees, and people can control those things too. Animal-speaking is really only used in the first book, The Goose Girl, whose protagonist can talk to birds.
- In The Shadow Speaker, Ejii discovers she can talk to animals and read their minds when she hears the thought of a cat eating a dead animal.
- In the Lionboy series Charlie can converse with cats after an accident when he was young, which involved getting scratched by a leopard cub.
Live Action TV
Religion and Mythology
- In the Germanic myth of the Nibelungs (later adapted into a series of operas by Richard Wagner), the hero Sigurd gains the ability to talk to birds.
- Melampus, in a Greek myth Older Than Feudalism, raised a pair of baby snakes in his youth after their mother was killed. The grateful serpents repaid him by giving him the power to understand animal speech. He eventually earned a kingdom and a wife with it.
- King Solomon allegedly had this ability, though some interpretations suggest that he just knew a lot about animal behavior and could figure out details about his environment not evident to humans by paying attention to them.
- The Tabletop RPG Vampire: The Requiem allows vampires to learn how to speak with animals, summon them, control them and eventually take over their bodies. Many use the lower-level power to get food. "Here, kitty, kitty." <Chomp>
- In Changeling The Lost, the Contract of Fang and Talon has this as the basic ability. A changeling needs to learn each sort of animal language separately.
- The Animalism disclipine was carried over from Vampire The Masquerade, where it was mainly used by the Gangrel and Nosferatu clans.
- In 7th Sea, those who possess a certain type of shape-shifting sorcery can talk to animals as well, with the catches being the farther away the sorcerer is from their home land or the more domesticated the animal is, the harder it is to communicate with it.
- Gnomes possess this as a racial ability in Dungeons & Dragons, and both druids and rangers gain access to similar abilities through spells.
- Xvarts (aka svarts or xivorts), a race of blue-skinned little humanoids, can speak with bats and rats in some editions of the game. 4th Edition explicitly makes them Evil Counterparts of gnomes.
- The Speak with Animals and Speak with Plants advantages in GURPS do exactly what they say with the caveat that some animals are barely sentient and most plants don't experience the world in a way remotely similar to us.
- The superheroine Lynx in the GURPS Supers supplement Supertemps. She's a Friend to All Living Things as well,
- Guy (or Gus) from Final Fantasy II can talk to beavers. If he can talk to other animals, it isn't said.
- Krile from Final Fantasy V is fluent in moogle and speaks some chocobo, although these two creatures are more intelligent than regular animals.
- In Dragon Quest VII, there is a woodsman who can talk to animals. You recruit him at one point to help with a village where animals seem to run things... and then he reveals that he can't talk to these animals because they're people who were turned into animals. He can, however, speak to the humans in the village, because they're transmogrified animals.
- Luke from Professor Layton can talk to animals (though in the first game the translation merely makes him a Friend to All Living Things). In the second game, he gets the idea to talk with a group of cows (who moo while he makes rather polite conversation) to find out which two of them were swapped with one another. Layton, who has consistently been shown throughout the first game as the sensible one, wonders why he hadn't thought of that himself.
- Your character in My Sims Agents seems to be able to understand what dogs and wolves say, and they can understand your simlish.
- Nami Kamishiro from Lux-Pain has the power to talk to animals. This is a plot point in the story as she's able to tell that Atsuki has Psychic Powers when she's first introduced and she's able to figure out who the serial killer is. She's also able to tell that the person that killed Mako was not the serial killer and can determine when bad things are going to happen. Near the end of the game during the witch hunt, when Melody is killed by Grahaml, she reveals that she can control the animals around her because of her powers. As Graham comments, "I'm going to have to fight mother nature, am I?" Her powers are not enough to stop Graham and he easily defeats her.
- N from Pokemon Black And White can communicate with Pokémon. He came to have this power when his father abandoned him with injured Pokémon.
- The aforementioned Dr. Footprint from Pokémon Special debuted in Pokemon Diamond And Pearl, where he tells you what your Pokémon is thinking based on its footprints. Even if they don't have feet.
- A little girl in the Battle Frontier in Pokémon Emerald could translate Pokémon dialogue directly to help you find out their happiness level, though she put it into little kid terms (i.e. using the word "ouchies" for injuries and wounds).
- The protagonist from Majin And The Forsaken Kingdom can talk to animals (and by extension the majin). Most of the NPCs are rats and birds.
- Minsc the ranger from the Baldur's Gate series has frequent conversations with his miniature giant space hamster Boo. While it's more than likely that he's just a little crazy, a talking miniaturized space hamster wouldn't be the weirdest thing in the setting.
- Ness from EarthBound can communicate (possibly telepathically) with pretty much any animal that's not in the middle of trying to kill him. In general, they're about as helpful as human NPCs.
- In The Legend Of Zelda Twilight Princess, Link gains the ability to talk to animals when he shapeshifts into a wolf.
- In Kings Quest V, the wizard Crispin gives Graham a piece of white snake to eat, which allows him to communicate with the animals he comes across.
- In the third game, a certain spell Alexander can cast allows him to understand animals, though not to actually speak back to them.
- Soul Blazer: The hero can talk to animals and also plants; the rest of the humans can't.
- In Terranigma, the hero can talk to animals as well as plants at first, but loses this ability after humans are revived.
- In Persona 3, Aigis can understand the thoughts of the team dog Koromaru. This leads to Kormaru having input in the team's discussions. She's kind of a subversion though: While she can translate what he's thinking, she cannot actually talk to him because "canines do not have their own language."
- In The Sims 2: Seasons, any sim with a gold gardening talent badge (including all plant sims) can speak with plants. This fulfills the need for social interaction (and the plant sim's "love" need).
- In Shining Wisdom once you find the Whisper Conch you can talk to animals...and Trents.
- Several characters in the Whateley Universe, including Avatars of some animal spirits, like Aquerna (who can talk to squirrels and order them around) or Arachne (who can talk to spiders but spiders don't make really good spies because they're not very smart).
- And we've now seen the Translation Convention: Aquerna talks to the squirrels and vice versa in what seems like English to her, but everyone else hears freaky squirrel noises.