Can Bats See Objects With Their Eyes After All?

It has long been thought that bats function entirely without the sense of sight. The phrase “blind as a bat” has immortalized bats as animals that are blind, but is this fair? Is it true that bats cannot see any objects at all with their eyes? Why do bats even have eyes?

It is becoming better known among the public that bats navigate the environment by means of an ability that is unique to bats. This ability is known as “echolocation”. The term itself is rather self-explanatory in that bats navigate by taking cues from echoes that bounce of objects. These echoes come from sounds that bats make themselves, so what else would a bat need to get around?

Despite what we have all been told since preschool, bats can indeed see. More than that, bats can also choose when to use sight or when to use sound in order to navigate their environments. For example, one study shows that bats prefer to use sight over sound when hunting prey. Some fruit bats do not use echolocation at all. Those fruit bats that rely solely on sight actually possess eyes that are far superior to the eyes of any human. For example, some fruit bats possess a power of eyesight that is so acute that they can make out ultraviolet rays.

There are over thirteen hundred different species of bat, and some species are markedly different from others. Bats are a remarkably diverse family of animals. Some bats prefer to eat insects, while other bats cannot stand insects and instead choose to feed on flowers. All three of the Latin American species of bat suck blood exclusively for sustenance. So not many bats able to see better than humans, but there also exists a wide array of adaptations among the bat family that most people are completely unaware of except for you.

Were you ever under the impression that some types of bats suck human blood?