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Bat Senses
Bat with nose leaves.
Also notice the very large ears.

Bat Senses

Bats smell, hear, taste, feel and see just like people do.  The term "blind as a bat" isn't really accurate.  Bats have perfectly good eyes for seeing in the daylight.  The problem is, they do most of their hunting at night!

Instead of relying on their sense of sight for night-time vision, bats make rapid high-pitched squeaks called "ultrasounds".  These sounds are too high for most people to hear.  If these sounds hit something, they bounce back -- sort of like when you hear your echo in a mountain or a bathroom when you shout.  The bat hears the echo and can tell where the object is.  This is called "echolocation".  Not every species of bat is able to echolocate, but most can.

We all know that we shouldn't talk with our mouths full -- and this causes a certain amount of difficulty for some bats who eat while flying (they swoop and catch insects -- eating them while they're still in the air).  Although some bats make the squeaks needed for echolocation with their mouths, many send out sounds through their noses.  Bats that echolocate with their nose often have special flaps and folds of skin on their faces called "nose leaves".  Scientists think that the nose leaves help the bats send the sounds in different directions.  The nose leaves give the bats a rather odd appearance!

Bats have the best hearing of all land mammals.  They often have huge ears compared to the rest of the body.


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