Myth or Fact? #25 - Bats are blind

in #science4 years ago (edited)

Welcome everybody to a new episode of Myth of Fact? A series in which we will show that some common believes are myths while others turn out to be true.

You are sitting with friends at the table and have some nice talks. You see there is no water left and you are thirsty. What are you going to do? Obviously you stand up and go to the freezer to get some fresh, sparking water. On the way to the freezer you overlook the wall in front of you since you are busy with reading great posts on Steemit. Banging your head against the wall you hear your friends laughing and calling you blind like a bat.

Every now and then you hear some horrific stories about blood sucking vampire bats that want your precious fluid of life. A widespread believe is that bats are blind and only navigate by echolocation. You seem to lack both: sight and echolocation.

Back to the bats – is it true that the only flying mammals are blind or is this just another widespread misunderstanding?

Let’s have a thorough checkup and answer this question!

How do bats navigate?

In the following we will use the two main categories of bat, Megachiroptera and Microchrioptera, and describe their most efficient way of navigating and surviving in nature. The word chiroptera comes from the Greek and means "hand-wing". This name was giving due to the structure of bat wings which look similar to the human hand.

Fig1. Bat skeleton. Source

First of all, all bat species can see. None of them is blind, NONE. The myth arose from the fact that most bats are nocturnal mammals that hunt at night. Furthermore bats are born blind but gain their eyesight after few days. Megachiroptera, or simply called Megabats, have well developed eyes they use to collect their nutrients from fruits or nectar and therefore need a proper eyesight.

Microchiroptera, or Microbats, have very poor developed eyes and feed on insects. Some other larger species of Microbats hunt animals such as fish, birds, lizards etc.

While Megabats have proper eyesight Microbats rely on echolocation for navigation. There is only one Megabat species, the Egyptian fruit bat Rousettus egyptiacus, which is able to use a kind to echolocation.

Echolocating animals such as Microbats emit self-produced high pitched squeaks ( ultra sonic) to their environment and detect variations in the reflected sound waves. The echo that bounces off nearby objects or insects is used of navigation and hunting. They compare the sound they emitted with the sound waves they receive and their brain processes these information. The darker it is the more the bats use Echolocation for navigation. Comparing Mega- and Microbats one can see that Microbats have larger ears while Megabats have larger eyes.

Fig.2 Illustration on Animal Echolocation Source

Speaking of bats being blind? Some bats have even far better developed eyes than us humans. Some fruit bats are able to see ultraviolet light! This makes sense since some flowers reflect ultraviolet light.

We humans can’t see UV light because it isn’t in the range of the light spectrum we can see. If you want to know more about the spectrum of light I recommend you to read my Life Explorers - The Human Senses Part I: Sight.

Still not convinced?

In the late 1930s Donald Griffin made several experiments on bats to study their navigational methods. In the physical laboratories of Harvard they were able to determine that bats use self produced ultra sonic waves that humans cannot hear. He blindfolded the bats and kept their ears shut. The result was that the bats were not able to avoid obstacles set on a course. Opening their eyes they were able to see the obstacles and avoid them. In the next phase the blindfolded them again but left their ears free. Now the bats were able to avoid the obstacles even blindfolded.

In 1944 he identified this phenomena as echolocation.

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Thanks for reading this episode of Myth or Fact! If you enjoyed it feel free to resteem and leave a comment! I would love to know what you think about bats!

Do you love photography? Then take part at my current photography challenge and win great prizes! MyPictureDay Challenge



Batman was here.

@fminerten1 @novina where is the batman lol X


Buy more STEEM like me and you will have too.

@fminerten1 I wish I had spare cash to but I don't so I'm blogging and posting comments on cool content to get some steem maybe you could upvote me would be great kind sir

@fminerten1 thanks hope you have a really great day my friend thanks for your time and nice to meet

nanananananananana BATMAAAAN.

nah, Batman was busy chasing joker :)

lol you have a great sense of humour mate

A very interesting read, Although if i am honest, although i find them fascinating creatures, they still completely freak me out. Hehe (runs away like a girl)

I knew bats weren't blind but thanks for sharing this additional information. Interesting indeed!

@timsaid really great post and some amazing pictures really love it keep up the amazing work and keep steeming on

Thanks man!

@timsaid @pharesim thanks guys for the up vote really nice keep up the great work loved the post


Hello from Spain.

One night here in Spain my brother-in-law and I came home late from the bar to my sisters piso. We had to be super quite because my sister was pissed off because we didnt come home.

When we opened the window a bat came flying in and must have circled the small dining room 1.000 times in one second without touching anything in the room.

My brother-in-law freaked out and grabbed the broom to try and swat it out of the air so it wouldnt hit one of us. He broke just about everything in the room and never hit the bat. After my sister woke up screaming and yelling the bat simply flew out the window.

Ill leave it there because Im sure you can imagine.

Great post.




This is so funny!


Bats are pretty amazing creatures. We as humans can learn alot about how bats navigate through the darkess of places using they're sonar. How they're able to locate prey and move in with a flock of bats without hitting each other or the items around them . And not just bats they're are many more animals out in the world that use this ability which we can learn so much from. To be honest our world is filled with amazing species. :)

Bats are super important to our enviroment. They do WAY more good than bad. When you look at them close they look like a mouse with velvet wings.



Hey Domi, I had similar experience! Always watch out in tropical places ! :) haha

Yes, but this was in a 9 story piso at 3:00 drunk as a skunk...



Closing Note
Please do extend your generous support by upvoting and resteeming this post. I would like to invite you to make a connection with me (@shanzaylizay). Your comments and opinions are most welcome, and I'm looking forward to having a great discussion in the comments section.

So does that mean he was flying with sight? How did grow up not knowing this????

I would say they feel frequency/vibrations and can hang a 90% turn with no problems: and fast!!!! He must have swatted at the bat over 100 times. This went on for 20min.





This is great. Laughed my ass off. What they needed was a swivel on his feet so he could turn around slowly to face him.


lol very creative

eye blind yes, ears no! :) thank you for this.

They are not blind :D lol

Damn life has been a lie! Thank you

I read somewhere that if a bat is placed in a pitch-black room, criss-crossed with fine wires, it will still be able to pick out their prey without touching any of the wires.

Pretty neat.

it was in a textbook, I don't have it anymore since we read it last year. my friends might still have it. If i come across it, I'll post a picture.

A bat picking up his prey.

Whaat? They should have used a Bat instead of Tom Cruise in the Mission Impossible movies, the missions wouldn't have been so impossible then :P

Very good.Excellent comment

nanananananananana BATMAAAAN

sorry @timsaid i can't resist :-)

Quote "If Batman wants so badly to be a bat, he might be more intriguing if he were also blind, like a Bat"

Very good my brother. Excellent comment

Bats are awsome dude !

I remember when I opened my window in my bedroom at night once and a bat just flew right in past my face! I so shit my pants!

Thanks for sharing! Interesting fun fact post. I have always thought that bats are blind since every time I see them in a TV show, the people would keep emphasizing the cool ability of bats flying without needing any vision. Well now I know they can see haha.

some bats even have better vision than humans

Very good my brother. Excellent comment

So interesting this episode of myth or fact especially because of all the stories from my native country (romania-vampires-bats) I knew they were no blind but really surprised me to find out that there are bats that can see in the UV spectrum of light! What about the blood sucking stuff? I imagine it was just an ancient legend due to the association with night, dark places and evil right? Great article as always! Had a really great time reading it. Cheers

There are blood sucking bats! I will write another Myth or Fact about this one :) See you!

Very good my brother. Excellent comment

Another excellent piece worth sharing, especially my students, thanks a bunch for your quality work, as always. Namaste :)

Thank you for the kind words my friend!
Greetings from Germany

Always love the knowledge that you bring to the table. I learn a lot from you. Keep em coming

National Geography channel is getting a New rival, Timor Said haha. Great post bro

Let 'em coming! Steemit has enough room for all

If we can get STEEM in the news, we can get it over $5 each.

Everyone should use this Media email list (3000+ contacts)

And send them this:

And this:

This write-up is not only inspirational but highly educative. I'll be looking out for more. Keep it up!

Thank you obeduche. Feedback like this motivates me

when i was a kid we use to live an area full of bats, actually they are 3 story high flats and a lot of bats made there homes in empty spaces near the roof. in night time they all came out and fly here and there and some times came inside the homes. trust me, i don't know why but i am still afraid of this flying mouse and i am 30 years old now :(

Ah! It's not a flying mice. This mistakes comes from the German translation. In German we say Fledermaus but they are definitely not mice

You can say its a Lion @timsaid you can't change my feelings for that beast :p

Flying Lions? Here we go

Fluffy fellows with funny faces! I prefer them flying but I only have photos of them like this!

Hey Tim,

Great work on your article. I love bats because they intrigue me how they can find their way around the night sky without hitting a tree or trip over something like I would if I was in some dense forest where there is little to no light. Cheers Tim.

Echolocation. Interesting concept. It s similar to the idea that when a person loses a sense, the other senses become more dominant.

I put up a bat house when I lived in the mountains to encourage them to hang around and take down the bug population:


-thelanternhill....Sounds like the next horror movie where bats will suck your blood out and chase you lol

Night of the Living Citation.

I am sitting on the terrace and two bats fly around me, which coincidence!

Greetings to them! :)

these little echo masters are damn cute 😜

@timsaid ha ha ha!!! You are very observant in doing a research, good-job !!!

Well, that is interesting. I knew most bats could see, but I was under the impression that there are some blind species... Very interesting!

Zero blind species :)

Very interesting. Bats must see the world in a totally different way than us. There world is astonishing!

Great image! Thanks

Ohhh interesting!!!! Thanks for sharing :-)

I love this series you do! Thanks For doing such good research and sharing :)

Thank you for reading

Always @timsaid like I said, I love it :))
Keep up the great work :)

I never heard that there was a myth about bats being blind! Thanks for sharing this Tim, I have learned something today!

It's quite known :)

I have no doubt that it's known!

I love your series! I'm following you and can't wait for another Myth or Fact! :)

Indeed, i always thought bats have better eyes because they usually must see stuff in low light, therefore they must have a more powerful sight... Fascinating animals!

They don't see well in low light, but hear! But there are some species that even see in low light

So the idiom"blind as a bat" doesn't make that much sense, then, huh?

Makes no sense since they are not blind

Just to add some bats live in webs of spiders lol and there are some bats that fly and hunt for food during the day! In the nighttime they sleep outside in trees etc. And unlike bads that feed in the night they have well developed eyes and they are not good at echolocation. This is my first post guys. Nice meeting you all!

Welcome to Steemit! Nice post :)

In the first paragraph of How do bats navigate? please correct Micochiroptera to Microchiroptera.
Otherwise great article 👍

Thank you, didn't see the typo upvote and resteem.....

Well I guess my has been a lie. :) Awesome post!

I once saw a Pteropodidae (wikipedia ; ) during one of my Travels...They were huge!!


OH MAn! I had 4 pet bats when i was younger!
My dad was crazy! lol!

I need some MINNOWS and WHALES to Help!
Lets prove my WIFE wrong! :)!
(Like The Gif? View The Blog For More) (Free 2 Use)

nice one...baths from where i come from ( West Africa) have some spiritual such, more often than not, baths coming into your home brings fear. I was at a friends house one evening and while we were enjoying a chilled bottle of heineken, there comes this scary bath which spoiled the fun as we forgot about chelsea match against arsenal scampering the whole house to chase it out...after which the wives did some prayers to bind the bad spirits away...whats your take in it...superstitious or...? pls dont judge as we live in spiritual times...

I am curious to know, if you are born deaf and blind in what language do you think ?

Would be pretty abstract. I would think it would be more image based thought. But then again, when you have a thought it could be something else other than an image. Now you have got me going @eltooni

You should write an article about it!

Yeah i don't know would still be very difficult to shape the thoughts though, having just images in mind without knowing how to name them.

Want another one?

What do you think can people who are born blind see image shaped dreams?

I would probably have to say yes to that.
They would be images that the blind person sees in his mind. Imagine feeling someone's face and then having a mental image of it.
I have had dreams with images that I don't relate to.
Still, it is an interesting thought.

I made a topic out of it even though as a question wanted to see what people think about it, but got no interaction :(

Does anybody know exact frequency of bat ?
There is a myth about blood sucking bats aswell, can you confirm on that?

Really nice. Good luck in further writing

So thaaaaaats how they do it! :)

Excellent comment, plaease more.

Great way to navigate at night!

very interesting article

That bat skeleton is a batman :O

@timesaid i love your posts.

I don't know much about BAT but I think your story is interesting , THANKS for the lesson

Nature bro! Its alll nature...all of it..totally...

thanks for sharing

Love is blind.

A lot of bats here in our place. They are annoying but they maintain balance to our place. Thank you for the information. :)

I learnt a lot about bats today, thank you for this post. Very informative, and the echolocation superpower is so cool, I wish I could do that, specially in dark environments.

Bats are also one of my favorite creatures, I even had a pet bat for about a week, then I let it go because I felt I was Batman and couldn't hold a friend prisoner. :P

Upvoted and followed! :)

Stuff that I, the consummate animal lover, didn't even know. Great article!

Thanks for sharing knowledge. Very interesting. I love Bats.

Is it a myth or fact (just outta curiousity) that if bats land on your head and grab your hair you have to cut it off to get the bat out? just a question. Great episode Tim.

Batman had eyes and he could see from thm... But bats... They can't.. ;p

I thought bats are blind, thanks for posting well researched article. Waiting for more such interesting posts.

How can bats be blind if they millions mosquitoes a night

Great episode! One of those myths you've always wondered about

We used to kill native bats using airgun when i was a kid haha. They are so many hanging on coconut leave. And after they being fallen we're making some inspection on theyre body, i just found out that they have a slant cut on their breast. I dont know what it is. All I really know is that they have a stinky smell. 😊😆😆

Great post man it something which gives knowledge

thanks for sharing

Oh thanks for the interesting lesson!! Now i know a lil bit more :D

Myth or fact is a nice series and I always wait for that. And yes, I also thought bats are blind or near blind, but you opened my eyes Tim!! And LOL, to

you seem to lack both: sight and echolocation

haha! Thanks! I even had to lol while writing this

I always think of bats as very cool creatures! :D
Very informative, thank you :)

Hi @timsaid :) I know I'm repeating myself, but you are a busy man obviously and you may not notice my first science related post. And I'm very curoius about your opinion. Will you have few minutes to read it and share your thoughts? Thank you very much :)

Great article and lots of related info
Resteemed by @resteemable

Great post Tim,

I find it interesting how humans always copy nature. Echolocation reminds me of AM and FM modulation more so than radar.

Sonar is indeed used by humans. See submarines etc

Another great post @timsaid - if only I was as blind as a bat then I would probably see a lot better than I do!

Great post man.thanks for sharing

What happens is that bats use echolocation to navigate and find food in the dark.
To echolocating, bats emit sound waves through their mouth or nose.
When sound waves impact an object, they produce echoes.
The echo bounces off the object and returns to the bat's ears

Bats rule!

I think they have some sought of microwave and night vision eyes!

They have eyes but they see not

Interesting post Tim.. bats are basically Super Rats.. with extra senses (powers).. they're basically mutant rats... like to man that would be Superman.. erm or should I say Batman ;)

I live out the boonies where we have seasons where Bats come out in waves through trees; always wondered why they didn't smack into branches or each other.

Thank you for upvoting my photo. If you like that one you will love my other ones.

Great info .Glad you cleared the myths

Well, I think this is just the beauty of Mother Nature hahaha ;-) I hope these cute animals get more attention, because we can learn alot from them!

I didn't know they aren't, blind but what I do know is they sure like to smoke cigarettes.

That's what I didn't know lol

Blur not blind. Lol @timsaid

Really interesting fact

Very informative. Thanks.

Echolocation is actually an impressive skill. I saw a large documentary on it once.

Nice post - I like your humorous way! I will be following your series.

Bats are cool. I want one as a pet

Excellent work @timsaid
You are a good researcher

@timsaid it is very interesting topic and well writtened way too informative. Like you i also love photography check me out and upvote and resteeem if you like i have resteemed and upvoted too plus i followed you too...

To me they were always fascinating..i just couldnct help chasing them but at the same time their eyes makes me shivers 😂😂


Wonderful post! I might be an expert after reading this post :D