This week Rabbi Samuel Waldman will discuss about the Bat. Now, although the simplest of Hashem’s creatures that are alive, even the tiniest single celled bacteria, are IMMENSELY COMPLEX, nevertheless, there are creatures that Hashem has made that are outstanding, and are quite unusual from what we would consider the norm even from creatures of Hashem. They catch our attention and are fun to study and see the amazing Yad Hashem in them. Bats are surely one of those creatures.

As we will learn in this article, many bats get around with using a sonar mechanism (similar to radar)! Yes, you read that right. SONAR! (What’s the difference between sonar and radar? SONAR stands for Sound Navigation and Ranging, and RADAR stands for Radio Detection and Ranging. The bats produce sounds that act as sonar and with their sonar they can find things in the pitch-black. We will get to this MIRACLE in part two.)

For those who may not know the basic details about bats, let’s discuss it. But first, let’s get this straight. Bats are NOT mice that fly. They are structured much differently than mice. There are two main types of bats. One is the Megachiroptera or megabats (typically larger bats that eat fruit and nectar from flowers) and Microchiroptera or microbats (typically smaller bats, that mainly eat insects). Our article will be focusing only on the insect eating bats). If you are interested to know, Chiroptera in Greek means hand-wing of which bats are famous for. The wings of bats are completely different than the wings of birds. Birds have very complicated feathers, but bats wings don’t have feathers, and they are relatively simpler. They consist of 2 layers of skin and sandwiched between those two layers are what looks like very long fingers. However, they aren’t “fingers” rather they are structures that look like fingers, but they are there to give the wings their sturdy, and at the same time very flexible shape. The wing membrane is made up of an external epidermis (skin layer) and an internal layer of dermis, which contains blood vessels (easily seen in a live bat when the wing is stretched in front of a light), and the “fingers” and muscles. These muscles control the curvature of the wing in flight. The membrane is both tough and flexible. If torn, it heals remarkably fast. If you look at a bat picture you will see that all bats have a thumb, a shorter “finger” which is closest to the actual bats body. It usually has a substantial claw coming out of it at the center of the top of the wing, which is used for climbing, food handling, and fighting.

Although much less complicated than bird wings, bats can still fly superbly well. The reason you may see bats flying in a very sporadic, irregular way is because you don’t realize that they are busy chasing insects, and many insects (such as moths and mosquitos), fly in such irregular patters, so, to catch them, the bat must do the same! 

Secondly, let’s get this straight. Contrary to popular opinion, bats are NOT blind. Megabats can see extremely well, even at night, but their food aren’t insects, its fruit, which is much easier to see and they don’t move around! Although microbats can see, but they can’t see as well as megabats, and since Hashem made their food source to be insects, and in order to avoid predators the bats look for food at night, hence Hashem made bats with this amazing sonar mechanism that can track down flying insects, even in the pitch-black night. No eyes of any animal or bird can see in total darkness. Bats live in caves in total darkness, and they fly at night in places of total darkness, over fields, with crops growing there, that are many miles long, (there are no nigh lights there) so without sonar they couldn’t get around in their caves nor could they ever catch those insects to eat them. Bats provide live, free insect control over the crops in their area. Hashem uses his creatures, by giving them specific appetites, so that there’s population control over the local insect and animal population. How creatures interact, and the study of keeping nature in balance is a branch of science called Ecology.

This is actually a VERY important point to know. We find that Hashem has put into his creatures, specific instincts to want to eat very specific foods, and amazingly, other foods that are available right under their nose, they won’t touch. It’s not up to them, it’s up to the appetite that Hashem put into them. For example, I always see squirrels that are near pigeons, which should make a really delicious meal for them, and they NEVER attempt to catch them, even though pigeons are quite easy to catch. There are millions of such examples in nature. Hashem has a grand plan that keeps a tight balance in nature so that no specific type of animal, insect or fish starts to proliferate, to become too numerous, and then the balance of nature gets upset/ruined.  Bats are part of Hashems ways to keep the insect population under control, and that’s why their appetite is strictly for flying insects, and that’s why Hashem gave them sonar! A typical bat will eat up to HALF ITS WEIGHT in insects EVERY NIGHT. That’s a LOT of insects!  

In the next article we will IY”H discuss extensively the miraculous SONAR system that Hashem put into bats!

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