Almost everyone will have heard the saying, “as blind as a bat,” but are bats blind? Here we take a look at whether bats are blind and discuss their use of echolocation. Finally, if you’ve got a colony of unwanted bats on your property, we will cover how to remove them safely, given their poor daytime vision.
For the best bat removal services in the Midwest, contact Central Plains Bat Removal. We will help you humanely relocate bats on your property to make sure you, your family, and the bats are happy and healthy.
No, bats are not blind. The reality is that bats can see quite well, just not in the same way as humans. Most bats hunt in dim or dark conditions, meaning that they don’t need the ability to see in bright light in the same way that we do. They have extremely sensitive eyes, which can see clearly in conditions that we would find challenging.
While twilight conditions suit bats’ eyesight well, their eyes struggle to adapt to bright light conditions. This means that if they are exposed to bright light, they will need to keep their eyes shut to avoid damaging them. Because they’re unable to use their eyes effectively during daylight hours, this leads to the myth that bats are blind.
Bats don’t just rely on their eyesight to catch insects and avoid hitting objects when they’re flying. They also use echolocation. Bats emit very high-pitched sounds at ultrasound frequencies. These sounds are inaudible to humans but audible to bats.
The calls are emitted at several different frequencies – some calls have a constant frequency (CF); others have variable frequencies (frequency modulated (FM) calls). The CF calls can travel further, but FM calls offer a greater variety of information. The bat picks up the returning calls using specially adapted cells in its ears.
Each bat has its own particular echolocation call, which alters subtly as it’s reflected off various surfaces. The bat can interpret what the altered sound means and uses this information to accurately locate its prey. Echolocation can also be used to detect the presence of trees, rocks,, or other objects that may impede its flight.
Bat calls can be loud! Studies that have been done to measure the volume of bat calls indicate that bats such as the little brown bat can emit a squeak that measures 120 decibels – about the same volume as a chain saw! Thankfully, as the frequency is so high, we can’t hear the bats “shouting.”
Humans use echolocation as well, although we’re not quite as skilled as bats! People with limited vision may use a walking cane to tap the ground and area immediately in front of them. The sound the cane makes enables them to detect the presence of puddles, uneven ground, or a change in surface.
For bats, echolocation has several significant advantages over relying on eyesight or hearing alone.
Most bats hunt at dusk or during the night. In minimal light conditions, even a bat’s dusk-adjusted eyesight isn’t going to be sufficient to pinpoint the location of an insect. Echolocation can be used to locate insects (the main food of common Mid-West bat species such as big brown bats, Eastern Red Bats, Northern Long-Eared Myotis, or little brown bats) in conditions where eyesight would be useless.
The squeaks that bats produce to facilitate echolocation are audible to the insects they hunt. Still, for some reason, the majority of insects that detect the bat squeaks don’t react defensively towards them – if they did, there would be lots of hungry bats around!
While many insects will hide from the light, they, like bats, come out to feed at twilight. The use of echolocation means bats can hunt at the time of day when tasty insects are most likely to be out and about.
Unfortunately, bat predators can also hear sounds at high frequencies. Cats, for example, can clearly hear bat echolocation noises, enabling them to easily detect where these little creatures are located.
Bats are a vital part of the ecosystem and play a key role in protecting crops due to their voracious appetite for eating crop-destroying pests. Without bats, many of our Mid-Western crops would likely fail due to the increased levels of insects.
Unfortunately, bat numbers are also declining. A combination of habitat loss and bat disease has seen numbers plummet in recent years. The Northern long-eared myotis and the Indiana bat are both protected species, and it’s likely that other bat species will soon be given protected status.
If you’ve got an unwanted bat colony on your premises, the team at Central Plains Bat Removal can relocate it for you safely and efficiently.
While bats are helpful to farmers and a vital part of the local environment, they’re not very pleasant guests to have in your home. Bats in the attic can create an unpleasant smell that filters down to the rest of the property. Bat guano can also soak into joists and other timber structures, eroding the materials of your property. For these reasons, they must be removed safely when the time is right.
Because of their unique eyesight and echolocation senses, bats can easily become dangerously stressed and panic if they’re suddenly exposed to bright light during the removal process. This is why amateur removal attempts often end in disaster, as the bats are startled due to inexpert removal.
Bats need to be removed professionally outside of their mating season.
Once removal has taken place, it’s essential to seal up any small holes or cracks on your property that could provide an entrance for a bat. Particularly in older properties, a missing tile, partially eroded beam, or similar small fault could be all that’s needed for bats to enter and take up residence.
Get in touch to learn more about Mid-West bats and what to do if you suspect you’re playing unwilling host to a colony of bats.
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