How Do Bats Fly?

Are Bats Blind?

Bats are the only mammal that uses its own power to fly. Some mammals, such as flying squirrels, can glide but they do not fly. Bats, on the other hand, fly and control their flight and power. Whereas birds have feathers, bats only have fur.

Bats have membranes that would be the equivalent of a webbed hand. The thumb is used for climbing, and the rest of the fingers are part of the wing. The membrane is very thin and light can pass through. The membrane extends to the tail in some cases and can be used as a pouch in some species.

The body of the bat is suited for flying. It is stubby and streamlined with the chest broader than the tail. The body is light and the wings can be folded between strokes of flight to make the bat more aerodynamic. Bats essentially “row” their wings and create lift. This also allows bats to hover and move in all directions.

It has been said that bats are blind. There is an old description “blind as a bat.” Well, bats are not blind. They have developed eyes, but not as developed as other animals, including humans. Bats can see, but they use their eyes with other senses. They use sound like sonar to find prey. They have hairs which sense air currents and surroundings. So, while bats do not depend on their eyes to the extent that other animals do, they are not blind.

Bats are incredible animals in that they use all available senses and flight to thrive in nature. They also use these senses to help humans control potentially life threatening insects such as mosquitoes, which can cause West Nile Virus, malaria, dengue fever, yellow fever and encephalitis.