If you ever thought bats are mute and only associated with darkness, you are not alone. As nocturnal creatures, bats are believed to communicate in silence; this is what I used to think.
Contrary to what most people believe, bats are quite vocal. It just happens that humans often don’t hear them. They can produce a range of sounds. Let’s find out together what the sounds are and how they make noise.
Do Bats Make Noise?
Yes, bats make fluttering noises with their wings when returning or leaving to search for food. They also scratch with their wings when climbing or crawling. However, the most common sound they produce is called echolocation. Bats use echolocation to navigate their environment and find food without any visual input. These sounds are usually beyond human hearing.
What Sounds Do Bats Make?
Bats produce sound through a process known as echolocation.
This involves producing high-pitched sounds and listening to the echoes as they ricochet off distant objects. This way, a bat can tell when there is an object close by; in fact, they are able to paint a picture of their surrounding in total darkness using echolocation.
Bats typically use echolocation to navigate and find insect prey (food). They use their vocal cords and larynx to make different calls, much like humans.
Besides catching prey insects, this unique ability also helps them to avoid obstacles and find their way back to their roosts.
The echolocation calls vary among different bat species, but in general, they make “clicks,” which sound like a bird’s chirp when slowed down.
Not every bat produces calls through their vocal cords. Some use their tongue or nostrils, while others use their wings.
Types of Echolocation Calls
There are two primary types of echolocation calls that bats produce:
- Constant Frequency (CF) calls: These calls maintain a steady frequency throughout the entire duration of the sound. Bats use CF calls to detect stationary objects or insects flying in a straight line.
- Frequency Modulated (FM) calls: FM calls are short, rapidly changing sounds that vary in frequency. They are helpful for detecting moving objects, such as prey or other bats, and determining their distance, size, direction, and speed.
Some bat species use a combination of CF and FM calls which allow them to adapt to different situations and environments.
Other Noises Made By Bats
While echolocation is crucial for bats’ survival, they also make other noises for social communication. These sounds, which can range from simple clicks to complex vocalizations, serve various purposes, such as establishing dominance, attracting mates, and warning others of potential threats.
During the mating season, male bats will produce distinctive calls to attract females. These calls can be loud and melodious, with some species even creating unique “songs” to woo potential mates. Sometimes, humans may be able to hear these calls.
When bats feel threatened or distressed, they may produce loud, high-pitched calls to warn their fellow colony members. These distress calls can be quite alarming and are often a sign that the bat is in danger.
Mother bats can recognize sounds made by their offspring. This allows them to locate and care for their pups among thousands of others in a colony. These calls are softer and help to maintain the strong bond between a mother and her baby.
Can Humans Hear Bats?
As earlier indicated, most bat calls are not audible to humans due to their high frequencies. However, some species produce lower-frequency calls that can be heard by the human ear, especially during social communication.
Examples are the common vampire bat and fruit-eating bats. Also, the greater horseshoe bat (Rhinolophus ferrumequinum) produces echolocation calls with a frequency of about 17 kHz, which some younger individuals with more sensitive hearing can detect.
If you’re keen on hearing a bat call, you can use specialized devices like bat detectors to pick up the ultrasonic sounds and convert them into audible sounds. These devices are often used by scientists and wildlife enthusiasts to study bats.
Do Bats Make Noise When They Fly?
Bats can generate noise during flight as they flap their wings. These sounds, while generally soft and subtle, can be amplified when a large group of bats takes flight or returns to their roost.
The wingbeats of bats are essential for their agility and maneuverability in the air, allowing them to perform aerial acrobatics and evade predators.
It’s important to note that not all bat species create the same level of noise during flight. Factors such as wing shape, size, and the bat’s flying speed can influence the sound produced.
For example, some species, like the common vampire bat, have wings that allow them to fly almost silently while approaching their prey.
Do Fruit Bats Make Noise?
Yes, fruit bats, also known as flying foxes, make noise.
However, unlike most bat species, they rely more on sight and smell rather than echolocation, so their sounds are more about communication within their large colonies.
Do Rabid Bats Make Noise?
There’s no definitive evidence to suggest that rabid bats make different or more noise than healthy bats.
If a bat is acting strangely or appears sick, it’s best to avoid contact and call a wildlife professional.
Other Related Questions
Are bat sounds harmful to humans?
No, bat sounds are not harmful to humans. They are at a frequency that is typically beyond human hearing range, and even when audible, they do not cause any harm.
Do Bats Make Noise During the Day?
Bats are less active during the day as they rest or sleep. However, some noises like scratching or squeaking might be heard if a bat is disturbed.
Do Bats Make Noise in the Attic?
Yes, bats living in your attic can produce audible sounds, especially at dusk or dawn when they are most active. You might hear scratching, squeaking, or crawling noises.
Do Bats Make Noise in Walls?
Bats can make noise when they’re roosting in walls. Similar to the attic scenario, you may hear sounds like scratching or crawling.
Do Bats Make Noise When They Hibernate?
During hibernation, bats have significantly lower metabolic activity and remain mostly silent. However, they may occasionally make some noise if disturbed.
In Conclusion: Do Bats Make Noise?
Bats are anything but silent. They make a variety of noises, from their complex social calls to high-frequency echolocation calls that enable them to navigate and hunt in the dark.
Many of these calls are inaudible to humans, while some are not, like when they rustle their wings.