KIDS ASK: Are Bats Blind?

“You’re as blind as a bat!”  Not true!  All 1,100 plus bat species can see, and often their vision is pretty good. Many bats though, are nocturnal (night) hunters and rely on their rather oversized ears and a special behavior called echolocation to quickly locate food.

How does echolocation work? A bat first shouts very loudly at an extremely high frequency. Some bats, like the horseshoe bat, also make sounds with their very intricate noses. The sound waves then bounce off objects such as trees, other bats, and bugs! Lots and lots of these short, fast sound waves boomerang back to the bat’s large, flexible, and very cool looking ears. The time between the bat shout and the return of the echo tells the bat how far away an object is.

These returning sound echoes go to a special place in the bat’s brain where the sounds are analyzed and turned into a mental picture of the bat’s surroundings.  Bats can fly through total darkness and determine if there’s a bug nearby to eat or an object to avoid.

Humans can’t hear the loud high pitched noises of bats. If humans could, these noises would sound as loud as a jack hammer! 

Coming soon for Halloween! The all new “Holy Bat Swarm! It's Halloween!” episode will shed some light - and dispel some myths - about our Incredible, adaptable, miniature mammals of flight - BATS!  Available October 1, 2013.