Bats are known to navigate by using echo-location.

How far away can a bat detect an object by its sonar?


This paper finds some species can detect as far as 67 meters, but the range varies between species.

Note that the bats can actively change their range of detection and trade off range for resolution (low range with high speed resolution for hunting in closed, cluttered spaces or high range with low speed resolution for hunting in open spaces), as explained in Wikipedia's article on Animal echolocation.

Cool stuff.

  • $\begingroup$ Are you sure they can switch between CF and FM calls? It was my understanding that CM bats are different species than FM bats. $\endgroup$ – terdon Oct 20 '12 at 11:17
  • $\begingroup$ @terdon the wikipedia article link which I gave says so. In fact it says that both can be combined in a call. $\endgroup$ – Bitwise Oct 20 '12 at 12:19
  • $\begingroup$ Sorry but I'm intrigued :). I cannot find any reference to a bat switching between CF and FM in the wikipedia article, in fact it refers to either CF or FM bats. There do seem to be some bats that use both but they don't switch from one to the other either, rather their call has a CF and an FM portion. See here. $\endgroup$ – terdon Oct 20 '12 at 19:59
  • $\begingroup$ @terdon you are probably regarding changing between CF/FM, I am not expert on the terminology. However, in my answer I was referring to what they mention in the article as the "Pulse interval". The article says that bats can change the pulse interval and thus determine the maximum range they can detect objects. $\endgroup$ – Bitwise Oct 22 '12 at 13:33
  • $\begingroup$ Ah OK, I see now, thanks. Cool stuff indeed :). $\endgroup$ – terdon Oct 22 '12 at 15:26

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