Echolocation in Microchiroptera

Our Purpose:

Our purpose in creating this resource is to elucidate, from all angles, the behavior in bats that we call Echolocation. Bats are fascinating creatures; animals whose means of interacting with the world are so foreign to us that they have frightened many, and captured the attentions of a great few. We are compelled by our curiosity to understand, so please enjoy your study of the bat.


Microbats are members of the suborder Michrochiroptera, which is within the order Chiroptera aka. bats. A few features distinguish microbats from so-called megabats (Megachiroptera):

  • The use of echolocation is for the most part exclusive to microbats. Only megabats of the genus Rousettus use echolocation and they use a different method from that used by microbats.
  • Microbats lack underfur, and have only 'guard hairs' or are naked.
  • Microbats have no claw on the second toe of the forelimb, unlike megabats.
  • A microbat's ear doesn't form a closed ring, but has edges separated from each other at the base of the ear

The smaller members of the microbat suborder feed on insects, while larger members may hunt fish, birds, frogs, or lizards. Some microbats feed on the blood of large mammals (aka. vampire bats). Microbats are found all over the world including North and South America. Their habitats vary from continent to continent, but they often favor warmer climes.


When used by an animal, echolocation may also be known as biosonar. The use of biosonar has been observed in several mammals including whales, dolphins, birds, and bats. Animals that use biosonar/echolocation send out a call to their environment and listen to the echoes of those calls that return from the objects in their environment. Based upon observed differences from the emitted sound, echolocating animals can use the echos toe identify, locate, and range objects in their surroundings, and it can be an instrumental tool in navigation and forraging, especially in environments where other senses such as sighgt may be impaired

.Carniverous Bat

Note: Much of the structure of this website is derived from Nikolaas Tinbergen's suggested approach to animal behavior. An overview of his 'four questions' can be found here.