How does echolocation work in bats?« Back to Questions List

Echolocation is a sonar system that enables animals and humans locate objects with the help of sound. Dolphins and bats are best known mammals that use echolocation for hunting preys. Bats are nocturnal mammals that roost in dark quiet places during the day. Their foot pads act like suction cups against the walls. There are lots of species of bat, with their wingspans ranging in size from six inches to five foot.



Like many other nocturnal animals, few species of bats have well developed eyes. Most other species use sound rather than sight to navigate at night. Echolocation helps them avoid obstacles and locate food. Sounds emitted by insect eating bats bounce off objects they hit. A bat can tell from the echo where and what the object is. Insects may be taken in half a second. Issued at the rate of up to 200 a second, high pitched sounds that are beyond the range of human hearing are come from the bat’s head. Those that strike flying insects, fruits or other targets bounce back to the bat, whose brain analyzes the echoes. From the echoes, bats determine what and where the object is. Echolocation thus works in a flash of a second. A bat can find an insect, chase it and eat it in half a second.


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