Bats imitate the buzzing sounds of hornets to stop owls from eating them.

Bats buzz like hornets to scare away predators

Bats buzz like hornets to scare away predators

Scientists claim that their discovery is the first case of mammals performing a 'Batesian mimicry' - named after the English naturalist Henry Walter Bates - which is when a harmless species copies a more threatening one to protect itself against predators.

The boffins, who published their findings in the Current Biology journal, made the discovery by recording the sounds made by bats caught in mist nets before playing them back to the owls and see how the birds reacted.

The owls consistently reacted to insect and bat buzzes by moving further away from the speaker.

Dr. Danilo Russo, from the University of Naples Federico II in Italy, said: "Buzzing might deceive the predator for a fraction of a second, enough to fly away."