It was a demon, right?
May 27, 2013 7:14 PM   Subscribe

Long shot filter: So this weekend I went camping in the Rocky Mountains and one night I heard the most unearthly shrieking caterwaul.

The only way I can think to describe it is to say "If a cat were possessed by Satan." This was in the middle of the night in otherwise complete stillness, and in my limited knowledge I can't think of any nocturnal animal that would make such a sound. This was in the low Rockies in a campground, not backcountry above treeline or anything. It was a repetitive shrieking, screeching call and it freaked me the hell out. Does anyone have any ideas?
posted by scratch to Pets & Animals (15 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Probably a mountain lion
posted by thelonius at 7:14 PM on May 27, 2013

Drunk campers?
posted by Confess, Fletch at 7:14 PM on May 27, 2013

Best answer: Guessing mountain lion.
posted by Ghostride The Whip at 7:16 PM on May 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

Peacocks from a neighboring farmer?
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 7:16 PM on May 27, 2013

Some owls have pretty otherworldly screeches.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 7:17 PM on May 27, 2013

Fighting raccoons sound pretty nasty. We were camping on the west coast of Vancouver Island a week or so ago and heard them all night, and there have been raccoons fighting in our neighbourhood too. That time of year.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:22 PM on May 27, 2013 [1 favorite]

Yeah, barn owl screams can be gnarly.
posted by one_bean at 7:22 PM on May 27, 2013

Do they have fisher cats out there? We have them in MA, and the first night I heard one, I was sure it was KILLing ALL the BUNNIES (and all the bunnies were shrieking for their lives). My neighbor says there are generally no bunnies involved and it's just the noise the cats make; I remain unconvinced (and we haven't seen many bunnies).
posted by Tandem Affinity at 7:25 PM on May 27, 2013

Best answer: Thirding Mountain Lion. I've heard recordings that pretty much I would call "demon cries" of them.
posted by smallerdemon at 7:27 PM on May 27, 2013

Response by poster: Based on a quick Google for mountain lion sounds, I think it was a mountain lion. Thank you, AskMe. Just listening to the recordings made my hair stand on end and it's not even dark in here.
posted by scratch at 7:29 PM on May 27, 2013 [3 favorites]

Less frighteningly, coyotes also have a scream that sounds for all the world like a terrified woman. You can YouTube those too, to check. They are much less rare animals, especially in more populated places, than mountain lions.
posted by Miko at 8:14 PM on May 27, 2013 [2 favorites]

As someone who grew up in the woods, I definitely concur that owls can make some incredibly otherworldly sounds. Something getting torn apart by an owl makes even more terrible sounds.

Also seconding that the sound of raccoons fighting can curdle your blood if they're really going at it. Also: foxes. Their cry can sound amazingly like a woman (or sometimes, a baby) screaming. Its really quite disconcerting, and not at all what I would've expected them to sound like.
posted by involution at 9:23 PM on May 27, 2013

Yeah it's probably a mountain lion. It's actually a pretty common sound to hear in a campground pretty much anywhere in the United States. I spent every summer of my youth in the Adirondacks in NY state, and I'd hear them screaming like every night. They usually sound much closer than they are. And even if they are close, they are way more afraid of you than you are of them.
posted by katyggls at 11:27 PM on May 27, 2013

Not sure if you get foxes out in the Rockies but here in London they're everywhere, and when they decide to go for it in the middle of the night it sounds pretty creepy. This is a fairly moderate example.
posted by Decani at 1:59 AM on May 28, 2013

Dammit, when I linked to coyotes I meant foxes. Distracted brain. Yeah, foxes make the humanlike scream I was thinking of.
posted by Miko at 7:16 AM on May 28, 2013

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