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Brendan said 5 years ago 6/7/2010 6:44:39 PM EDT

I live in the suburbs, but my back yard is kind of woodsy. There are large tangles of small trees, blackberry bushes, poison ivy, and various other undergrowth separating my yard from my neighbor's.

Last night, around midnight, there came from behind my house a terrible screaming -- not a human, but a distinctly animal sound. I wish I could describe it. After a while, the shrieks died out, and I figured that whatever had made the sound had died or gone away or been eaten. But then much later, maybe three hours later, it started up again, and went on for perhaps two minutes. I peered out the window, and I thought I saw movement and shaking in the bushes, but it may have been the wind.

I've heard feral cats yowling in a fight and caterwauling while in heat, and this was nothing like that -- this screech was very un-feline in nature. Like most neighborhoods in the eastern U.S., our town has plenty of creatures prowling around: squirrels, skunks, raccoons, possums, groundhogs. Was I hearing a raccoon being devoured by a fox? A fox being devoured by a raccoon? A skunk during the rutting season? A mole having a seizure?

I have absolutely no idea. Do you?

Pac0daTac0 said 5 years ago 6/7/2010 6:47:16 PM EDT

It was probably the Smoke Monster.

Sorry, I'm a Lostie. :D

Brendan said 5 years ago 6/7/2010 6:56:30 PM EDT

+ in reply to...  

Good call, but I don't think it was the Jersey Devil. My fellow Boy Scouts and I found his bones at the bottom of a ravine while camping years ago. At least, I'm pretty sure they were his bones. I suppose they could have belonged to a deer.

Global Councilloremipsum said 5 years ago 6/7/2010 7:20:52 PM EDT

Cats getting raped have a distinctly horrible alien scream that might be perceived as being being un-feline. I suppose a large raccoon getting shredded and eaten alive could do likewise. Nature ain't pretty.

Use this to narrow down the choices:

<a href='' target='_blank' rel='nofollow'><b>flash video</b></a>

Global CouncilArena AdminKookaburra said 5 years ago 6/7/2010 7:30:56 PM EDT

I was gonna guess a raccoon but I like arsi's suggestion better.

The separation of time makes me wonder if it was a predator with two distinct prey. Most creatures will run and hid if bitten or attacked. Given my California upbringing I would venture a mountain lion but I do not think their habitat extends into your neighborhood.

I suggest you don't venture back there alone at night to find out what it is, but if it continues for multiple nights, you might call animal control. Be sure to let us know.

Hmmm . . . any cats or dogs in your family? Have you seen them today?

Ddallas said 5 years ago 6/7/2010 7:32:47 PM EDT

Bunnies give some loud screams.

Pink Bunny
ama168 said 5 years ago 6/7/2010 7:43:30 PM EDT

Sasquatch? With constipation? ;)

MadMonkey2 said 5 years ago 6/7/2010 8:27:55 PM EDT

Tell your neighbors to shut their bedroom window next time they are feeling frisky!

Todd1000 said 5 years ago 6/7/2010 9:01:10 PM EDT

I've heard something like that camping and it scared the heck out of me. Years later I was watching a nature show and heard opposums mating-that was it. Horrible screams.

oberdarts62 said 5 years ago 6/7/2010 10:27:12 PM EDT

I would bet that what you heard was actually a screech owl. It sounds almost as if a woman were screaming. My reasoning for this is that you heard it at different times. You suppose?
sound of a screech owl

rebeccatroy said 5 years ago 6/7/2010 10:59:55 PM EDT

Screech owls do have an unusual cry. We live in the woods and I hear lots of animals getting killed by the coyotes. Wild turkey makes a terrible ruckus when being killed, so do little bunnies, like like dDallas said. Too bad you cant set up some kind of camera that lights up the area where you hear the noises coming from, that would flip on a light and you could capture the kill. EEEEEEK!

Ddallas said 5 years ago 6/7/2010 11:08:20 PM EDT

I was thinking maybe screech owl too. Those things are scary sounding. One year hunting with my dad we were camped in the middle of the woods and in the middle of the night woke up by a screaming out. Freaked me right out, all I could think was Blair Witch :D

Global Councilnikneven said 5 years ago 6/7/2010 11:13:49 PM EDT

Foxes sounds somewhat like a cross between a human and a cat getting mauled by a tax collecor.

Skim through this for a good idea of the different unearthly noises these things make:

<a href='' target='_blank' rel='nofollow'><b>flash video</b></a>

Global CouncilArena AdminFanatic said 5 years ago 6/7/2010 11:22:42 PM EDT

A raccoon fight can sound ungodly awful like that.

I had a similar experience a few years back--hearing a baby screaming in the back yard in the middle of the night. Ungodly loud, just like a baby. It was a baby--a baby squirrel. Tiny, pink, and lonely.

But I bet what you heard was a raccoon.

Global Councilmak said 5 years ago 6/7/2010 11:44:51 PM EDT

The only wildlife I've had in my backyard in the last few years have been snails and hedgehogs. Neither emits sound you described - hedgehogs sniff and huff and puff and snails go *CRUNCH*.

MadMonkey2 said 5 years ago 6/8/2010 1:29:42 AM EDT

mak said
and snails go *CRUNCH*.

Only when you stomp them!

bevissimo said 5 years ago 6/8/2010 2:22:59 AM EDT

Only once have I been startled by animal sounds from the back yard, and I live relatively rurally. One night about a decade ago, there was such a screeching, to describe it faithfully would verge on Gothic melodrama. At this time, I had Springre, the best dog ever. She was so protective, but on that night there was this screeching wail that scared us both.

Usually she would take off to 'protect' the property (you know, bark and pretend to be fierce and brave) at the slightest wing flap, but this screeching scared us both. I could tell she wanted to check it out, but she was also trembling a wee bit, and it freaked me out horribly because it was a series of almost identical and timed screeches, so I wasn't even sure it was real.

Why someone would manufacture such a sound, I don't know, but the cries were almost evenly spaced and identical in urgency. That's what confused me, the screeches lasted long enough for me to try to time them the way one times thunder, by counting the seconds between blasts. Even though the screeches sounded almost identical, the timing wasn't easily done.

Anyway, Springre stayed with me and we both trembled until the screeches stopped. That was it for the night, but a day or so later she appeared with a treasure, what can best be described as the tail of a possum. They're decent creatures, but have very distinctive and ugly tails.

If the wailings sound so freaky and scary, I'm thinking possum. If it were a skunk you would have smelled it.

Oh wait, you live in New Jersey.

<insert New Jersey/He11 PUNchline here>

never mind....

6feetunder said 5 years ago 6/8/2010 9:18:54 AM EDT

I'll second Fanatic's 'raccoon fight' theory.
I'll also add a 'porcupine fight' theory to the mix.

The sounds from either of those fighting creatures can make the hair stand up on the back of your neck.

steveRS said 5 years ago 6/8/2010 9:30:28 AM EDT

+ in reply to...  

I agree with MM2 lol

There was an old movie once, can't remember the name but, the Gym Teacher's nickname was "Lassie" !

One wiff of men's sweat then. hoooww;;;;;;;;;;llllllllllll !

Bundles said 5 years ago 6/8/2010 9:36:47 AM EDT

+ in reply to...  


steveRS said 5 years ago 6/8/2010 9:40:48 AM EDT

+ in reply to...  

Haha !

That was it !

DragonTat7 said 5 years ago 6/8/2010 1:03:07 PM EDT

Could have been a Screech Owl, or some sort of owl. Remember the scene in the movie "My Cousin Vinny" where Vinny is staying at a cabin way out in the woods? He hears that screeching and comes running out in his boxers and a coat shooting his pistol randomly into the air. The funny thing is, Schreech Owls are so small, yet they make such a loud noise.

Bundles said 5 years ago 6/8/2010 1:11:09 PM EDT

Okay, I confess. Sorry, I'll try to be quieter next time.

But those loose twigs can be quite a surprise when they hit certain places.

MadMonkey2 said 5 years ago 6/8/2010 1:28:58 PM EDT

I like Brendan's last guess. A mole having a seizure. :P