While most of us are accustomed to hearing the squeak of a bat and thinking nothing of it, new research shows that bats are using their squeaks to vocalize a great deal of information. According to this research, bats squeak to each other to communicate a wide range of thoughts.
However, bats are using these squeaks as a means of expressing disagreement more often than not. When bats bicker with one another, they are usually fighting over important matters, such as sleep, food and mating patterns.
We have yet to develop a true method for translating a bat’s squeaking into English, but there is a sense that their cacophony contains a multitude of information, whereas their vocalizations were once considered to be a pure expression of aggression.
Researchers are now able to categorize the squeaks, to find if the animals are fighting over food or if they are arguing over mating. Sleeping positions are another common point of contention for bats and scientists can recognize the individual vocalization of each bat, allowing them to tell who is being spoken to.
A bat squeak often signals a protest of some kind, as they will squeak to let others know to stay away from their food and female bats will use their squeaks as a means of warding off an unwanted mating partner. The communication studies also focused on context clues and found that bats had a greater ability to use context in their speech than previously thought.
There is currently no human to bat translation system in the works, but scientists do not expect us to be able to communicate with them directly in our lifetimes.