The cuica is a Brazilian friction drum traditionally used by Rio de Janeiro samba schools; It sounds like a series of moans - and is said to imitate the sound of a monkey, and to have been used in hunting by Brazilian Indian tribes.
Traditionally used by samba schools; it produces an exotic sound which changes the timbre of the bateria. A real cuica has a hide skin with a thick aluminium body and must be tunable. Serious cuicas are 30cm deep and between 8 and 10" wide; anything smaller is really just a toy and will not be heard in a samba band. Cuicas have a much wider use than simply as a Brazilian samba percussion instrument, the unusual sound of the cuica being used for percussion effects in a wide range of music.
You get the cuica to produce its strange , human sounding creaks and groans by by rubbing a stick fixed to the cuica head, inside the drum, with a damp cloth. It is very easy to be careless and break the stick, especially if the cuica is not your own instrument. Experienced cuica players will not lend out their instruments for this reason!