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No, bats are not blind. In fact, small North American bats can see almost as well as humans. Additionally, bigger bats can see significantly better than us. Nocturnal bats, however, will not use their eyesight in the dark, as they rely on echolocation to navigate their surrounding areas and catch prey. Non-nocturnal bats will have even better eyesight than the more common nocturnal ones, but at the same time, their echolocation abilities won't be as refined. By using their bio sonar, bats are able to “see” with their ears, and don't need eyes to fly around obstacles, or to feed on moving prey. When hunting for insects, a bat will emit wide range ultrasonic chirps, and wait for the echoes of the chirps to return in order to locate its flying prey. I've written more about how bats communicate, and how bat echolocation works, so if you're interested in more extensive information regarding these subjects, I encourage you to check out those entries – it's good stuff.
It's safe to say that the myth that bats are blind comes from ancient human collective consciousness. If the bat prefers the secrecy of dark, and it doesn't need eyes to see, it must mean not only that this animal is evil, but also that it can't use its eyes. Otherwise, why wouldn't it live its life in daylight as “normal” animals do? This logic can be understood in a time when little was actually known about biology and ecosystems. The aforementioned train of thought, combined with the disgust and fear of bats that have been deep seeded in both pagan and biblical mythology have allowed such bat folklore to stick around even in our days, a long time after all the various bat myths have been proven false.
The idea that bats are not blind might already seem trite to some, but taking into account the amount of people who still think that all bats carry rabies, or that bats will suck your blood and get stuck in your hair, I don't feel at all foolish making this entry about bats not being blind.
Nevertheless, as amazing and non-blind as bats are, they're definitely not good company in your living space. If you're dealing with bats in your attic or chimney, please, don't forget that bat removal is a specialty service. You can check out the online directory of pest removal professionals I've assembled on this website, and you can rest assured that all the experts featured here have been verified to ensure quality and legitimacy of service.
For more information, you may want to click on one of these guides that I wrote:
How much does bat removal cost? - get the lowdown on prices.
How to get rid of bats - my main bat removal info guide.
Example bat removal photographs - get do-it-yourself ideas.
Bat job blog - learn from great examples of bat jobs I've done.