What comes to mind when you think of bats? Maybe it's vampires - or caves. Bats are small flying mammals that are typically nocturnal. Most people that have taken their dog for a walk at dusk have probably seen bats at least once. They don’t really seem to make too much noise and they fly and roost pretty far above where humans usually go. So, you might not even notice them sometimes.
Bats use echolocation to see the world around them, and the frequencies they use to communicate are pretty far out of human’s hearing range. However, does your pooch notice them? Can they hear them - and does the noise bats make bother your pup? That’s a great question!
Signs Your Dog Hears Something
Let’s start with the signs that your dog will show if they hear something. If your dog hears something new, they'll typically start by putting their ears up and listening. Then they might sniff to see if there is a scent associated with the sound. You might notice them staring off into the distance and looking like they’re very, very interested in the new sound.
If your dog is interested in the sound or perceives a threat, they may growl or bark at it. They might even run - either after the sound or away from it, depending on their reaction. If it's a familiar sound, however, such as something they hear on their walk every day, they might not care so much and become used to it.
History of Dogs Hearing Bats
It’s hard to pinpoint how long bats have existed. Batworlds.com says this is because bats have very dainty bones, and so finding fossils of them is very, very difficult. However, some fossils of bats have been found that date back to 52 million years ago. So, bats have been around for at least that long!
The fossils have also shown that bats have evolved. Bats today have two claws on each limb whereas bats of old had five on each limb. They also had longer back legs and shorter front legs than the bats that are alive today. Bats have always been able to fly, though.
As far as bats and dogs, there isn’t much history about the two together other than with illnesses. Bats are well known for carrying rabies frequently. So, most instances of dogs and bats mentioned together have to do with a bat infecting a dog with rabies. Bats can infect dogs, cats, and even humans with rabies. So, it’s best to leave bats alone.
A former dog owner recounted a story where she would go to the lake with her in-laws and their family dog. The Chihuahua-Jack Russell mix loved to chase anything and everything. However, this person noticed that the dog never seemed to get excited or upset when she'd go outside to go potty and there were bats flying around the cabin.
She came to the conclusion that it probably wasn't that the pup didn't hear the bats, since even her owners could hear them. It was probably that she was used to the sound from being around it a lot in the summers. She probably also knew that she could never catch one. So, why bother?
Science Behind Dogs Hearing Bats
Scientifically, bats use sonar to communicate and to fly safely, but they make a variety of sounds. Online, the general consensus among dog owners is that dogs probably can hear some of the sounds bats make, just like humans can.
Dogs can typically hear sounds between 67-45,000 Hz. Bats typically communicate in frequencies between 30,000-120,000 HZ. Bats use something called echolocation to hear other bats, find food, and to see the world around them. Some studies have also shown that bats can even reshape their ears in order to hear things better! It’s pretty amazing.
Training Your Dog to Hear Bats
While you can't train your pooch to hear bats (they either hear them or they don't), you do need to take some precautions. As mentioned, bats can carry rabies. Rabies is a deadly disease that if left untreated can kill your dog and even spread to other dogs or even humans if your dog were to bite you. So, just keep this in mind if you're around bats a lot or your dog comes across a bat and tries to catch one.
Make sure your pooch is up-to-date on their rabies vaccine, and if your pooch does get bitten, get them to your vet immediately. Chasing bats is not a healthy hobby for your pup.
So, can dogs hear bats? Probably they hear at least some of the sounds bats are making. Just be sure to keep your dog away from them no matter if the bats are dead or alive.
By Katie Anderson
Published: 07/06/2018, edited: 04/06/2020