Bats flying over trees in daytime

Are Bats Blind? 

We’ve probably all heard the expression “as blind as a bat.” But have you ever stopped to think whether bat eyesight is really that bad? Are Bats Blind? 

The short answer is no. Bats are not blind. Most bats can see adequately during the day and can see far better than humans can in low light, such as at dawn, dusk, and nighttime. 

This good night vision is due to the type of photoreceptors (nerve cells that respond to light) in bat eyes. Like humans and other mammals, bats have photoreceptors called rods and cones. Many bats have UV-sensitive cone cells, which enable them to respond to UV light, which is usually not visible to humans. This helps bats navigate at night with low UV light from the moon. It is also helpful for bats who feed off nectar from flowers, as flowers have been found to reflect UV waves. Bat eyes also have many rod cells that respond to very low light, providing them with heightened night vision. Bats do not see the full range of color that we do, and some species can see only two colors at a time or none. 

Are Megabats Blind?

Bat species can be divided into two main groups, megabats (Megachiroptera) and microbats (Microchiroptera). What’s the difference? As the name suggests, megabats are usually larger than microbats and have bigger eyes. Megabats -such as fruit bats and flying foxes- are not blind; they use their sight and sense of smell to navigate and find food, usually fruit or nectar. 

A megabat flying in blue sky

are microbats blind?

Microbats are not blind. Despite having small eyes, microbats have good vision, and they use their sight and echolocation skills to navigate and hunt their food, mainly insects. In addition, their vision is very good at night, enabling them to hunt tiny insects.

A microbat with big ears

 Eyesight Vs Echolocation 

One reason for the common view that bats are blind is that bats don’t just use their sight to navigate. As stated above, some bats also use echolocation. 

Echolocation is the ability to locate objects or other animals using sound. With this skill, bats emit high-pitched clicking sounds that bounce off objects, enabling them to know the location and distance between themselves and other things. Bat mothers even use this skill to find their pups

Bats do not have this skill instead of eyesight. As mentioned, not all bats can echolocate; therefore, some bats rely mainly on vision and smell. In addition, echolocation can only work up to a certain distance, ranging approximately between 30-70 feet, so bats with this skill will use their sight alone to detect objects or threats that are out of this range.  

Chart explaining echolocation in bats

Are bats ever blind? 

If a bat is sick, for instance, infected with rabies, it may become blind during a late stage of the disease just before death. Glazed, staring eyes are a well-known sign of a diseased animal, but it’s important to remember that animals can be sick without showing any outward symptoms. So, for example, a bat with rabies can be asymptomatic for a long time, even months, before the disease spreads to their brain and they show symptoms. 

Although most bats are healthy, bats in the US can carry rabies. If you see a bat behaving strangely, do not assume it is because it has poor vision. Remember that the bat could be sick, so do not touch it. Contact a professional bat removal specialist if you think you have a bat colony in your residential or commercial property. If you need any help with bats, we are here for you.

Your Local Bat Removal Expert,

Michael Koski

Get Bats Out Owner and President Michael Koski


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