9 Interesting Facts About Bats
Bats have a bad reputation as a creature to be feared. But by learning some facts about bats, hopefully, you will be less jittery about them.
Of course, to be fair, at first glance bats can be a little worrisome. After all, they do have sharp, pointy teeth, they hang upside down, and they have been responsible for more than a couple cases of rabies. Yet these amazing creatures are nothing to be feared and are in fact important members of a diverse ecosystem.
#1. Bats Can Fly
In fact, bats are the only mammals that truly do fly! Other mammals, like flying squirrels, simply glide through the air. However, bats have thin wings, and the power to push forward in the air.
Did you also know that bats can run and swim? Vampire bats are able to sprint across the ground on all fours, and some bats can also paddle through the water using their hands, feet, and wings. This comes in handy when they are searching for fish or waterborne insects to eat.
#2. Bats Eat Tons of Bugs
You may want to think twice about removing that colony of bats roosting in the trees on your property. They may be performing a bug extermination service for you that you aren’t even aware of.
Bats can eat about half of their body weight in insects each day and some species like vampire bats eat twice their weight in bugs every day.
Most species eat incredibly fast and have quick metabolisms allowing them to consume up to 1,000 bugs per hour. In one particular location in Texas, it is estimated that the twenty million Mexican free-tailed bats that live there eat over 200 tons of insects every night!
#3. Most Bats Don’t Suck Blood
The fact about bats sucking blood is partly true. Some bats certainly do suck blood, but a majority of them don’t. The remainder prefers to eat flowers, fruits, nectar, pollen, and leaves. Megabats usually eat fruit, while microbats tend to stick to insects. Some bats squeeze fruits into their mouths and just drink the juices.
Vampire bats on the other hand certainly do drink blood. They draw blood from cattle, deer, and other animals by hunting them using heat-detecting sensors. These bats make a V-shaped cut in their prey, and then lick up the blood.
The anticoagulant in vampire bat saliva is called Draculin, and it is so effective at thinning blood that it is now used medicinally for patients with stroke or heart disease.
#4. Bats Use Echolocation
Most bats use echolocation to find their food. Basically, they make high-frequency sounds that allow them to analyze where objects are around them. When the sound bounces off the object, they can determine both how large and how far away an object is.
Bats don’t see well, and they also do most of their hunting at night. As a result, echolocation is the easiest way for them to find their food. While bats can use their eyesight during the daytime, it is weak, and so most of their work is carried out under the cloak of darkness.
#5. Bats Come in All Sizes, Shapes, and Colors
There are over 1,300 species of bats in the world. They make up approximately a quarter of all mammals. Bats are divided into two types: megabats and microbats.
- Megabats – these bats tend to be larger than microbats, but not always. The largest megabats, flying foxes, have wingspans of up to six feet.
- Microbats – obviously these types of bats are usually smaller than megabats. The smallest megabat being the long-tongued fruit bat weighs only half an ounce.
#6. Bats Can Live Just About Anywhere
With the exception of some islands, and the Arctic and Antarctica, bats are found all over the world. Bats prefer warm climates, so there are more species, and a greater bat diversity closer to the equator. They can also be found in areas like farmland, woods, mountains, rainforests, and even some cities.
They don’t have a lot of fat and will go into a short-term period of hibernation called torpor during cold weather. Bats can roost in trees, barns, mines, or even under bridges. These roosting spots provide protection from predators, and also a place to stay warm.
Bats live in colonies which could contain anywhere from one hundred to several thousand individual bats.
#7. Bats Have Unique Mating Habits
One of the more interesting facts about bats is their mating ritual. To start, bats meet up at hibernation sites, also called hibernacula, to breed. They will swarm around each other in large numbers performing magnificent acrobatics before they are ready to breed. Females tend to seek out the most agile males.
Mating usually occurs in late summer or early autumn with a female carrying her young for anywhere between forty days to six months. She gives birth to one baby at a time.
#8. Many Bats are Protected
Several species of bats around the world are threatened with extinction generally as a result of habitat destruction. Some bat species are also threatened as a result of the fungal disease white-nose syndrome. About fifty percent of the bat species in the United States are either in serious decline or listed as endangered.
#9. Some Bats Carry Disease
Bats have been documented to contain over sixty different viruses that can affect humans. They carry significantly more viruses than any other mammal species on the planet. This is largely because bats live for a long period of time, and in quite close quarters to each other.
However, bats are also valuable to the ecosystem, and should not be killed. Many species are protected, so you should never kill a bat, even if it’s living in your home. Besides their ability to reduce insect populations, and maintain a healthy equilibrium in the environment, bats are also a valuable source of nitrogen-rich poop, or guano, which is a great fertilizer.
These are just some of the unique facts about bats that we hope have changed your opinion of them. Also, if you are experiencing an issue with bats in or around your home, consult a pest control expert to safely remove them from your property without harming them as they do perform a vital function in the ecosystem.
More Related Articles About Bats: