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  • USA Wildlife Removal Education Guide - How do bats use echolocation?

How do bats use echolocation?

Equipped with one of the nature’s most sophisticated mechanisms of sight, hearing and special bats are capable of flying great distances, hunting and preying on smallest of animals, avoiding obstacles with great precision and spotting objects located further than a human eye can grasp. This mechanism, or ability, is called echolocation. Echolocation exists in many species other than bats, many of them being mammals living underwater like dolphins, sharks and whales. What is unique about the bat is that this animal is using echolocation to achieve greater precision and speed in orienting within the space and coordinating their actions than other animals do.



Echolocation is an ability of animals like bats to use sounds in order to create an image of the space and objects surrounding them. Bats firstly emit high-frequency ultrasonic sound waves that spread throughout the environment and bounce off the surrounding objects. Bats then gather these reflecting sounds using their ears, which helps them to determine the distance between themselves and other objects. While awake and in state of alert, bats will continuously create these ultrasonic sounds that are too high for a human ear to even detect. Once bats gather multitude of these signals coming from their environment, they will manage to fly, hunt and communicate with each other with great precision.

Bats use echolocation to create a sonic map of their surroundings. Combined with sharp hearing and sight, this ability allows them to manage within most challenging circumstances and situations. Using echolocation, bats avoid crashing into the objects while flying. Considering the length and speed of the bat’s flight, this ability gives them a significant advantage in surviving amongst predators, as well as hunting. Thanks to this specific mechanism, bets are less likely to become a prey of other predators.

As most bats feed on small insects, they need their senses well-sharpened in order to be able to catch their small, but fast prey. Bats also use echolocation to communicate with each other and detect each other’s position within the roost. Every bat has its unique frequency, which allows them to differ their own sounds from sounds of other bats. Different species of bats also emit different sounds that vary in frequency, based on the characteristics of their pray and environment. This characteristic makes it possible for us to recognize different types of bats by only listening to their sound.

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