BAT SENSE – by Nature Video

This slow motion video of a bat drinking from a pool of water was made by German scientists Stefan Greif and Björn Siemers. The pair set out to investigate the sensory cues that help animals recognise features in their environment: in this case, the ponds and rivers that bats use for orientation and foraging. We know a lot about how bats use echolocation to target insect-sized objects, but this is the first study to show how they recognise large, flat objects like ponds. Stefan and Bjorn caught wild bats in Bulgaria and tested them in a large, dark flight room. They presented the bats with either smooth or textured plates positioned on the flight room’s sandy floor. When presented with a smooth plate of metal, the bats treated it like water and tried to drink. Even when the metal plate was put on a table – a very unnatural position for a pond – the researchers watched as the bats attempted to quench their thirst. A smooth metal plate reflects sound in the same way as a body of water so this behaviour supported the researchers’ hypothesis that bats rely on the mirror-like echo reflection properties of smooth surfaces to recognize water in their environment. When a bat flies above a smooth surface most of the sound waves in its call are reflected away, but a small proportion hit the surface immediately below and then bounced back… a tell-tale sign of water if you’re a bat. Stephan and Bjorn also tested young bats that had never encountered a pond or river before. These naive bats also tried to drink from the metal plate. This was the first time in their lives these youngsters had encountered a large, smooth surface so this suggests that water recognition in bats is hardwired into the brain. And the researchers claim this is the first evidence for innate recognition of a habitat cue, such as a pond, in a mammal.

100 thoughts on “BAT SENSE – by Nature Video”

  1. Tell a bat about in-flight refuelling of military aircraft, and it'll mention how it's kids do that at zero feet above pond-level just for the fun! XD

  2. One of them got inside my house and flew around. Luckily I managed to catch him inside a jar. But as I observed him, I felt sorry for the little bugger as he shivered and shook in the cold, so I let him go inside an abandoned house. Yeah people call them disgusting, but hey, don't blame me fore being an animal friend…

  3. They can't see, usually you can't see them either because they fly around at night or at low lighting conditions, and they're animals, meaning if they accidentally come across an object or a living creature, their instincts suggest biting/clawing, thus transmitting potentially deadly diseases (like rabies). I really DON'T hate them, I just hate when the poor creatures trap themselves in my house with open windows and can't get out. Damn thing won't go outside! Peace 🙂

  4. Because they look like rats just winged so…closer to your face. We all know the real flying rats are pigeons though (fuck pigeons).

    Watching this vid can't help but wonder what would happen if a bat by some braindamage had weaker signals/echorecognition and thus couldn't tell water from ground. Would it scrape off its face trying to drink asphalt?

  5. I just found out last night that there are Bats in my dads new house. Not outside NEAR the house, but IN our house!!

  6. If you want to help the dwindling, blind bats…Stick a piece of sliced apple outside in a batbox you have stuck on a tree and/or stick a bird bath in your garden (so they can drink). Pass this on to help the bats 😀

  7. I agree, they are mysterious, one decided to join me after wrestling and flew around for a bit, it was nice 😀

  8. "hur dur ha-ha I have nothing better to do than mock animals with millions of years of amazing evolution behind them, hur dur " shut up.

  9. I love to see flight in slow motion. The flight of any animal, insect or water falling for that matter. Slow motion or UltraSlo motion gives you incredible insight of movement. There are some nice shots in this clip.

  10. I think they would recognize flowing water as well. Whether or not they would drink from it, is another thing. I wouldn't know.

  11. So if it's windy, and the pond no longer is a flat surface, the bat is screwed? Go evolution!

    Still pretty cool though..

  12. Great Work! But have you any moment thinking about the bats which want have to drink? Maybe sometimes someone make a test like this with us humans :-/

  13. Bats that use ecolocation are not fully blind, nor is any other bat, they can see water, bugs appear as a blur with little detail, i doubt a completely blind animal would live in the open, most blind animals live underground or deep in the pits of the ocean.

  14. Water surface is not usually smooth. there's wind, currents, all sort of disturbances… ripples everywhere.
    Sometimes it is, yes. Sometimes.

    I think they are just trying to understand what is that.
    We too use our tongues when we want to understand something. It's standard behavior for a mammal.

  15. OMG, the smooth metal reminds me hard about my neighbors upstairs whos got absolutely no hair or shame which knock its head 24/7

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