Echolocation – ‘Seeing with Sound’!

Saccolaimus flaviventris

Saccolaimus flaviventris – Yellow-bellied Sheath-tail Bat. Courtesy of Terry Reardon. This is one special bat that humans can hear their calls!

Bats emit a high-frequency call when searching for their insects. The call is emitted from the mouth and nose of the bat. The sonar pulses/signals emitted are returned to the bat as an echo, giving the bat the information of the size of insect and its location. Most bat sonar pulses are beyond the range of human hearing.

Two Adelaide bats are within our range of hearing, these being:

  • Yellow-bellied Sheathtail Bat (Saccolaimus flaviventris)
  • White-striped Freetail Bat (Tadarida australis)

There is a lovely book available now through CSIRO –  ‘BATS – Working the Night Shift’.

This is an excellent book if you wish to learn more about Echolocation and anything else about our beautiful Australian bats!  Dr Greg Richards and Dr Les Hall are the wonderful authors.

Bat Conservation International also have an Educational Manual called ‘Discovering Bats’ which has a very informative section on Echolocation.