This is the sixty-fourth entry in the Scratching That Itch series, wherein I randomly select and write about one of the 1741 games and game-related things included in the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. The Bundle raised $8,149,829.66 split evenly between the NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund and Community Bail Fund, but don’t worry if you missed it. There are plenty of ways you can help support the vital cause of racial justice; try here for a start. Lastly, as always, you may click on images to view larger versions.

The random number generators have whirred to life once again, plucking a selection from the Bundle for Racial Justice and Equality. It’s Sound Effects: Reptiles and more, by Sound of Essen. Its tagline in the bundle reads:

Snakes, Crocodile, Monitor, Bird, Frogs and Mammal SFX

That’s right, this isn’t a game, but rather some sounds you might use when making a game (or something else). This time, we’re feasting our ears on the sonorous sounds of reptiles… and more!

The sounds in this pack were recorded at the TerraZoo reptile shelter in Rheinberg, Germany. This shelter cares for animals that were mistreated or abandoned by former owners, specializing in poisonous reptiles but taking in other animals too. They sometimes also treat and then release injured wildlife. All the sound files are in .wav format, with a high quality sample rate of 192 kHz and 24 bit depth, ensuring they can be incorporated into any audio design before final compression is applied.

The pack includes sounds from 14 different species, including the yellow-banded poison dart frog, Nile crocodile, Papua monitor and several different snakes, as well as more familiar animals like goats, chickens, and assorted birds. There are 65 sound files in total (but this is only the 64th entry in Scratching That Itch; so close!), most of which are just a few seconds long, many even shorter. These mostly showcase calls, growls or chirps, with some files containing a few examples. A few longer (10-20 second) clips highlight particularly long calls, or the sound of animals eating. Then there’s the one outlier: a recording over 13 minutes long of a fishtank containing a laced moray and red lionfish. This one is odd, since it’s not really the sound of the animals, but rather the tank itself. Dominated by whirring machinery and the sound of bubbling water, it might be useful as background ambience for a film or video game.

Wondering what the animal sounds could be used for? Obviously they’re perfect if you’re making something featuring these animals in particular, but the authors give several suggestions for other uses too. The growls of the larger reptiles work nicely for dragons or other fantastical beasts, but they can also be layered into vehicle sounds, or in the background of jungle scenes. The flapping of peacock wings could easily be used for many types of birds, and the clucking of chickens and bleating of goats are natural accompaniments for farm locations. The sounds of animals eating — goats and red-tailed lemurs, with the latter chowing down on apples and celery in separate clips — would be surprisingly useful for any manner of food-related sound effects. Chewing, it turns out, sounds pretty similar no matter which species is doing it.

The main thing I learned from listening to these animals is that they can sound pretty weird. The poison dart frog’s call is a high-pitched warble that, to my uneducated ear, sounds somewhere between a frog and a bird. The many examples of rattlesnake rattles, from both a diamondback rattlesnake and a massasauga rattler, sound different to the typical sound I’ve heard in movies. The diamondback’s rattle is faster and higher pitched, and maintained for much longer than I expected. In some cases, the rattle rapidly speeds up multiple times, reminiscent of the zip-pull starter for a lawnmower motor. The massasuaga’s rattle is even less familiar, more of a buzz than a rattle to my ears. The hisses of the puff adder and Arabian cobra are actually lower pitched than I expected, calling to mind the sound of a breathing appratus. There’s even a reticulated python emerging from cold water, emitting a plaintive whine that I would not have thought was a reptile at all.

The most impressive sounds, however, come from the largest reptiles. I would have no trouble believing that the growl of the Nile crocodile comes from a dragon, or other fearsome beast. The growl ends with a deep, throaty gurgle that I recognize from movies, used whenever any threatening monster is near. The massive Papua monitor is more alien, its breathing a drawn-out, grating sound that I might not even have recognized as breathing without the label. Once identified, however, it’s even more ominous than the crocodile for being so unfamiliar.

If you missed it in the bundle, Sound Effects: Reptiles and more is sold for a minimum price of $45.00. That may sound (ha!) like a lot, but 50% of proceeds go directly towards the TerraZoo reptile shelter, so purchases help support the animals. If you’re making something that could use some animal sounds, be it chirping birds and squeaking rodents, the menacing growls and hisses of reptiles, or even some other sound that could be enriched by mixing these in, then this pack is worth checking out. The license agreement is generous, letting users include the sounds in original or modified form in both personal and commercial products. And if you got the bundle, it’s worth a listen just to hear how strange some of these creatures sound.

That’s 64 down, and only 1677 to go!