With Halloween just around the corner and bats being connected to Halloween in a very negative sense.  I felt this was a good time to get rid of the myths and misconceptions about these great little mammals.  People place their fears and anxieties based on folklore and fiction.

I really love bats! I  did extensive research on these amazing little mammals. I have felt a need to educate others in hopes that it will stop the misguided beliefs.

First off, bats remove insects that are harmful both to the environment as well as to our food supplies. Bats help in pollination and food dispersal.

Here are a few Quick Facts about Bats:

Bats are mammals. They account for more than 25 percent of all the mammals on the earth! Bats are the only mammals that can fly. They can live from 4 to 30 years.

Unlike popular beliefs, bats are very clean animals, they groom themselves almost all the time.

Mother bats have one baby in their litter. The baby bats are called Pups. When a pup is born, it usually has no hair and its eyes are closed. They cling to the mother bat and drink milk from her. When the pup is about four months old, it learns to fly.

Fewer than 0.5% of bats have rabies. Since 1960 there have only been 40 reported cases of humans getting rabies from bats. You have a better chance of being bitten by non-vaccinated  dogs and cats.

Bat droppings found in caves help whole ecosystems of unique organisms. This includes bacteria, which is useful in detoxifying wastes, improving detergents and producing antibiotics and gasohol.

Depending on the species, bats can be gray, brown, white or reddish brown.

The Honduran white bat is snow white in color and has a yellow nose and ears. It protects its small colonies from jungle rains by cutting large leaves to make tents!

Bats are very sociable animals, and live in large colonies. Depending on the type of bat, their life span is between four and thirty years.

Bats like to live in dark places. Caves, holes in trees and even buildings are favorite homes. Because bats sleep during the day and are active at night, they are called “nocturnal.”

Bats sleep upside down. They use their feet to grasp onto a twig or board, and when it is cold, they hang close together.

Bats have teeth and chew their food. Seventy percent of all bats eat insects. One bat can eat more than a thousand insects in one hour!

Sometimes they are mistakenly called “flying rodents” or “flying rats” and can also mistakenly seem to be  insects or birds. Their heads actually look more like dogs or foxes. There are two suborders of bats:

Megachiroptera  referred to as Megabats

Megabats eat fruit, nectar or pollen while most Microbats eat insects. Megabats have a well-developed visual cortex and show good visual acuity.

Microchiroptera  referred to as Microbats/echolocating bats

Microbats rely on echolocation for navigation and finding prey.

Understanding the makeup of these mammals:

The forelimbs of bats are webbed and developed as wings, making them the only mammals naturally capable of true and sustained flight. Other mammals said to fly, such as the flying squirrel, actually “glide” for short distances – they don’t fly. Bats do not flap their entire forelimbs, as birds do, but instead flap their spread out digits, which are very long and covered with a thin membrane.

There are about 1,100 bat species worldwide. About seventy percent of bats are insectivores. Most of the rest are frugivores, or fruit eaters.  Bats are present throughout most of the world and perform vital ecological roles such as pollinating flowers and dispersing fruit seeds. Many tropical plant species depend entirely on bats for the distribution of their seeds.

Echolocation:

Bat echolocation is a perceptual system where *ultrasonic sounds are emitted specifically to produce echoes. By comparing the outgoing pulse with the returning echoes the brain and auditory nervous system can produce detailed images of the bat’s surroundings. This allows bats to detect, localize and even classify their prey in complete darkness. At 130 decibels in intensity, bat calls are some of the most intense airborne animal sounds.

*Some animals — such as dogs, cats, dolphins, bats, and mice — have an upper frequency limit that is greater than that of the human ear and thus can hear ultrasound, which is how a dog whistle works.

The development of Ultrasound used in technology (such as submarines) was developed from bat’s Echolocation.

Hunting:
Some bats like the little brown bat can use this dexterious ability where it is able to drink in mid air. Other bats such as the flying fox or fruit bat gently skim the water’s surface, then land nearby to lick water from their chest fur. An additional kind of receptor cell is found in the wing membrane of species that use their wings to catch prey.

Most bats are nocturnal creatures. Their daylight hours are spent grooming, sleeping, and resting; it is during the nighttime hours that they hunt.

The means by which bats navigate while finding and catching their prey in the dark:

Bats seem to use their ears to locate and catch their prey. When bats fly, they produce a constant stream of high-pitched sounds that only bats are able to hear. When the sound waves produced by these sounds hit an insect or other animal, the echoes bounce back to the bat, and guide them to the source.

Do bats suck blood?

Very Few bats drink blood. However there are some Vampire Bats that live in Central America, South America and Mexico that feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals like horses, cattle and birds. The Vampire bat makes a small cut in a sleeping animal’s skin and laps up the blood from the wound. Vampire bats need about 2 teaspoons of blood a day to live.

Fruit-eating Bats:

These bats feed on the juices of sweet fruits, and fulfill the needs of some seeds to be dispersed. The fruits preferred are fleshy and sweet, but not particularly strong smelling or colorful. To get the juice of these fruits, bats pull the fruit off the trees with their teeth, and fly back to their roost with the fruit in their mouth. There, the bat will consume the fruit, they crush open the fruit and eat the parts that satisfy their hunger. The remainder of the fruit; the seeds and pulp, are spat onto the ground. These seeds take root and begin to grow into new fruit trees. “Over one hundred and fifty types of plants depend on bats in order to reproduce.

Red Crowned Fruit Bat

Conservation Efforts:

Through conservancy efforts, such as the Organization for Bat Conservation, bats are becoming better understood and people are beginning to understand the crucial role bats play in insect control and pollination.

In the United Kingdom all bats are protected under the Wildlife and Countryside Acts, and even disturbing a bat or its roost can be punished with a heavy fine.

Bats can be a tourist attraction. The Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas is the summer home to North America’s largest urban bat colony, an estimated 1,500,000 Mexican free-tailed bats, which eat an estimated 10,000 to 30,000 pounds of insects each night. An estimated 100,000 tourists per year visit the bridge at twilight to watch the bats leave the roost.

Do your part in keeping these incredible mammals from harm or becoming extinct!  I have listed some sites below.  There are many more sites available that answer questions and offer suggestions to help with constructing bat houses or assistance with misplaced bats. So Google search, get educated and get to know how valuable these tiny mammals truly are.

Bat Conservation International

Bat Rescue

Bat Rescue and Other Facts on Bats

Bat World

Bat Sanctuaries in Texas

Bat Houses:

Fly By Night

National Parks

Organization for Bat Conservation

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3 Responses to “Facts About Bats”

  • WOW I knew some of the info about bats but didn’t know all that you shared – thanks for all the info – guess I’ll appreciate them even more now

    Nancy
    Skype: nancyradlinger

  • Susie Moore says:

    Hi Ellen,

    I have always been fasinated with bats. In one area of Dallas I live once before you will not believe it but we had found a bat outside clinging to a tree. It was really a unique time to observe the bat so close.Thanks again for sharing something wonderful with us all.

    susie moore
    skype smsforce

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