Are Bats Blind?

Bats are fundamental species for our ecosystem. They fulfill functions that we often don’t know about, due to all the myths created around these animals. One of these myths claims that bats would be blind. is this really true?
Are bats blind?

Bats are believed to be blind or have poor eyesight. This myth is based on their physical appearance, as many of them have small eyes and also use echolocation to guide themselves.

In addition to beliefs, it should be noted that having good ears does not mean having poor eyesight. It’s true that some of the bat’s senses predominate over sight, but this varies by species. If you are a person who believes this or have heard the story that bats are blind, we invite you to learn more about these animals in this article.

Bats are blind and other myths

There are more than 1100 species of bats ( Chiroptera ), each with different characteristics. There are social bats and others that prefer solitude. Some have long ears, others have their tongues as long as their bodies. Also, some are white and some are black or striped. These animals represent 20% of all living mammals, so this diversity is something to be expected.

In addition to the myth that bats are blind, there are others that are not true, such as the stories that they would be unlucky animals, that they would be rats with wings, that they would be part of the group of birds or – much worse – that they would be a Prague. Bats are surrounded by an aura of cultural confusion, as even the conception of the blood-eating bat represents a minority within this group.

The Pontifical Javeriana University of Bogotá tells us that bats have been protagonists in different societies since ancient times. In Zapotec Mexican culture, this winged mammal is the god of fertility, in Mayan culture it represents sacrifice, and in Aztec culture it is associated with death.

Other cultures link the bat at night, vampires, the underworld and death. All this shows the lack of knowledge about their virtues and the important role of these mammals in the well-being of ecosystems. About 70% of species are insectivores and almost all others feed on fruit.

The importance of bats

The appearance of bats is reminiscent of ‘winged’ rodents – with patages – such as flying squirrels. However, both animals have distinct anatomical structures and a completely different evolutionary history, according to studies by the Humboldt Institute .

These mammals can live up to 44 years, belong to the order Chiroptera, the second most abundant mammal taxon in the world. The word bat comes from the Greek and means ‘wing hand’ because, according to experts, bats can fly thanks to their modified hands.

Some bats feed on fruit, dispersing seeds that regenerate forests and damaged areas. Others feed on insects, controlling agricultural pests, favoring the cotton, corn, bean and rice industries, and reducing the population of pests, such as the dengue mosquito or malaria.

There are also bats that feed on the nectar of flowers, which induces the pollination of many plants. Some are carnivores, but of the 1421 species described today, there are only 3 that feed on blood.

Are bats blind?

Are bats blind?

It is believed that bats are not able to see or that their visual ability is very poor. It is true that bats have small eyes and in some species they are not well developed, but they are not blind and some even see very well.

The Fundaión Con Life says that bats that eat insects have developed ears and a system of sounds, called echolocation . This serves to supplement their vision and allows them to stay active at night without a problem.

Furthermore, the fact that these mammals have good ears does not mean that they are blind, as they are also more sensitive in locating objects. This way, they can easily move around the forest or open areas and locate their food accurately.

Echolocation is a radar-like tracking system. These animals emit characteristic sounds that bounce off objects and return as an echo to your ears and nervous system for information to be processed.

Your vision varies

The scientific journal Molecular Biology and Evolution reports that bats have some of the most unique and peculiar adaptations observed among mammals, making them excellent models for studying the evolution of sensory perception.

This unique auditory ability shows wide variation among the 21 families of echolocating bats. It has been argued that these species developed this acoustic sense at the expense of their other senses, such as sight, due to the typically small size of an echolocating bat’s eyes.

However, this is not the case in all cases. For example, the bat family Pteropodidae does not use laryngeal echolocation, as the species have large, sensitive eyes that are specialized for night vision.

Bats’ vision adjusts to low-light conditions, such as those that occur during dawn and dusk. While some may not have as good color vision as humans, their overall vision may be better than ours during sunrise and sunset, according to experts.

People with poor vision are often told that they are “blind as a bat”, but the expression is inadequate, as bats see very well, with an acuity that varies from one species to another. This phrase may have originated from the fact that bats have fast, erratic flight patterns that look like a person stumbling.

They are not blind, but some cannot see colors

Bats are famous for using their hearing to explore environments, but few people know that these flying mammals have good vision both during the day and at night.

Some bats can even see color, thanks to two light-sensitive proteins in the back of their eyes. However, according to the eLife organization , many species of bats do not have one of these proteins and therefore cannot distinguish any color.

Zoom in on a vampire's face.

Bats are wonderful and surprising species, whose history is full of myths and associations invented by humans. Respecting bats, as well as all animals, is essential to preserve the balance of the ecosystem.

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button