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Types of Bats (Pictures, Facts, Guide) The Flying Mammal

Bats are very crucial for a healthy environment as they disperse seeds, eat loads of harmful insects and help pollinate plants. Common misconceptions and fears about the bats have led many people to regard these nocturnal flyers as nothing more than frightening and fatal disease carriers. 

Bats, belonging to the second most populated group of mammals, consist of about 174 genera and more than 900 different species.

Megabats (Megachiroptera)

The bats belonging to this suborder are informally known as Old world bats or Flying-foxes. They have about 150 to 200 identified species. These are frugivores bats, feeding solely upon fruits. As per their diet, they happen to live in tropical regions generally. Megabats can’t echolocate, with the exception of some like the Egyptian Rosette.

Egyptian fruit bats (Rousettinae)

Appearance

Egyptian fruit bats’ bodies are light brown in combination with dark brown wings of a 2-foot wingspan. They have a long, dog-like snout.

Habitat and Diet

You will find them from sub-Saharan Africa extending all the way to the middle east. They exist in the northern parts of India and in the deciduous forest of Pakistan too. True to their name, these bats eat soft fruits such as apples, apricots, and dates.

Breeding

During the breeding seasons, both sexes segregate. They have two breeding seasons: (1) from April to August, (2) from October to February. They have a single pup each year. Their gestation period is prolonged to 150 to 120 days.

Threats and predators

They are seen being eaten by weasels, owls, snakes, eagles, and especially lanner falcons.

 

Black flying foxes (Pteropus Alecto)

Appearance

They are a very common megabat. Black flying foxes are, well, black obviously. But they have a tint of reddish-brown at the backside of the neck. They share a lot of characteristics with the grey-headed flying foxes- same weight, i.e., 600 to 1000 grams, same reproductive cycle, along with the trait of roosting in groups.

Habitat and Diet

They mainly reside in tropical and subtropical forests and woodlands. Mangroves and floodplains are primary maternity sites for female bats. They eat fleshy fruits like melaleucas. Blossom from eucalyptus is their favorite. Black flying foxes can complete a journey of 50 km to hunt for food.

Breeding

The birth period for these types of bats is from early spring to late autumn.

Threats and predators

They are the victims of sea eagles, carpet pythons, powerlines, wildfires, barbed wire fences, and habitat loss.

 

 

Lesser long-nosed bat

The lesser long-nosed bat is a medium-sized bat three inches long, weighing 0.5 to 0.9 ounces. Males and females are almost the same size and are difficult to distinguish one from another. The bat is commonly found in Central and North America. It is sometimes known as Sanborn’s long-nosed bat or the Mexican long-nosed bat.

 

This species belongs to the leaf-nosed bat family since they have a triangular flap of tissue that looks like a leaf on their noses. The noses enable the bat to detect the scent of flowers, and their three inched tongues make them great pollinators. The tongue allows for the bat to reach the nectar. While feeding, the bat’s body is covered in pollen, and cross-pollination happens upon moving to the next flower.

 

Lesser long-nosed bats move from one place to another. They are migratory. During winter, they stay in central Mexico and follow the scent of flowers to Southern Arizona and New Mexico.

The bat is also found in the Sonoran Desert. When traveling, the bats group in thousands in caves or abandoned mines to birth their young ones as well as to rest. In spite of the presence of two mating periods, bats mate only once a year. Their Gestation period is about six months and results in the birth of one pup.

 

Newly born bats weigh 4 to 7 grams and are weaned for four to eight weeks. After a month, they can fly but do not leave the maternity cave for an additional two to three weeks. The bats can live for up to at least eight years in the wild.

 

 

Hoary bat

 

The hoary bat measures 13 to 14.5 cm (5-5.5 inches) and a weight of 26 grams (0.92 oz). It is the largest bat generally found in Chile and Canada. Its fur is thick, reddish-brown, or yellowish with white tips to the hairs that give it its ‘hoary’ look.

 

The bat usually roosts alone on trees, but occasionally, it has been seen in caves with other bats. The species primarily prefers woodland but may also hunt over open areas or lakes. It hunts alone, and its diet is primarily moths. The bats can fly over 39 km while foraging.

They are long-distance migrants and spend their spring in the southwestern United States and winter in Central America. During summer, the bats stay in the United States and Canada.

The hoary female bat has a gestation period of about 40 weeks and can birth twins. The young ones are weaned after seven weeks.

 

 

Pallid bat

Commonly found in Western Canada and Central America, the pallid bat, is large, pale creamy, or light brown and has long ears. They have large eyes, and their faces are covered in wart-like sebaceous glands, weighing about 19 grams.

 

The bat feeds primarily on ground-dwelling arthropods such as beetles, scorpions, grasshoppers, spiders, and crickets. Other foods include big moths and small rodents. The gestation period is almost nine weeks. Young pallid bats start flying at 30 days old and are fully weaned at 7 weeks.

 

 

Little brown bat

The little brown bat is brown, red, or gold and is mouse-eared. On average, the bats have a wingspan of 10 inches and weigh less than half an ounce. Females are larger than males. Little brown bats live in colonies of hundreds of thousands in roosts. The roosts provide a habitat for bats when they are resting or sleeping. The bats commonly feed on arthropods, including insects and spiders.

 

Little brown bats are primarily found in North America. Females give birth annually, and young ones are weaned until they reach adult size by three weeks.

 

 

Big Brown bat

The big brown bat is a species of the vesper bat, found in North America, South America, and the Caribbean, weighing between 20 grams. Big brown bats feed on insects such as beetles. The bats are nocturnal and forage for prey by night, and stay in roosts during the day.

 

At birth, pups are blind, helpless, and only three g., though they grow quickly. The pup nurses from its mother for approximately one month. Mothers leave their pups behind at the roost while they forage at night. Pups start flying at three to five weeks old.

 

 

Peter’s Dwarf Epauletted Fruit Bat

 

This species is commonly found in Africa. The bat eats fruits and nectar and is known to transport viruses. The males produce high-pitched sounds to attract females.

 

 

Brown Long-Eared Bat

The brown long-eared bat has distinctive ears, which are nong and folded.

They are 2 inches long. They eat earwigs, flies, moths, and beetles. Brown long-eared bats regularly utilize buildings roosting in undisturbed roof spaces either singly, in crevices and timber, or clusters around chimneys and ridge end. This species also roosts in tree holes and caves. It is found in Europe, except in Southern Italy, Greece, and southern Spain

 

Striped Yellow-eared Bat

 

The striped yellow-eared bat. is native to Central and South America. The bat is mainly found in Honduras, Columbia, and Costa Rica.

 

 

Greater Horseshoe Bat

This European bat has a wingspan of 36 centimeters. The bat can be distinguished by the flap of horseshoe-shaped skin around its nostrils. The Greater Horseshoe Bat feeds on giant insects in flight and prefers to roost while hanging upside down. It is primarily active in woodland and often roosts underground. They are 2 inches long and weigh 1 oz. They can live for 30 years.

 

 

Desert Long-Eared Bat

 

The bat is mainly found in the Middle East and North Africa. The bat’s head and body length is about 75 mm, tail length is about 60 mm, and forearm length is 57–67 mm. Desert long-eared bats weigh 19 grams. The ears are 40mm. They eat scorpions, arachnids, and orthoptera.

 

 

Soprano Pipistrelle

The bat is small in size and is found in Europe. It roosts on rooftops and lives in huge colonies. AKA 55 kHz pipistrelle and brown pipistrelle.

 

 

Eastern Red Bat

Eastern red bats are widespread across eastern North America and Bermuda. The eastern red bat has distinctive fur, with males being brick or rusty red and females being a slightly more frosted shade of red. The bats have unique shoulder patches of white fur. The Eastern Red Bats give birth to 3-5 pups at one time. The young learn to fly when they are a month old. They weigh .4 ounce and are 4 inches long.

 

 

Kitti’s Hog-Nosed Bat

 

Kitti’s hog-nosed bat is the smallest species of bat. It has a reddish-brown or grey coat with a distinctive pig-like snout. The bats are primarily found in Thailand, and Myanmar Colonies range greatly in size, with an average of 100 individuals per cave. The bat feeds during short activity periods in the evening and dawn, foraging around nearby forest areas for insects. Females give birth annually to a single offspring. AKA bumblebee bat. They are 1 inch long and weigh .07 ounce. The are red, brown, or grey.

 

 

 

Mexican free-tailed bat

Commonly found in North America, the Mexican free-tailed bat averages 9 cm in length and weighs 7 -12 grams. Females are slightly bigger than males. The tail is almost half their total length and stretches widely hence the name “free-tailed” bats. They have broad and rounded ears. The bats feed on moths, wasps, ants, bugs, flies, and beetles. The gestation period lasts 7-11 weeks, with one pup being born.

 

Virginia big-eared bat

 

The Virginia big-eared bat is only found in a few counties in caves year-round, with wintering sites often different than summer maternity or bachelor roost sites. The Virginia big-eared bat feeds over hayfields, cornfields, forested tracts, pastures, and small woodlots. They feed on moths, beetles, flies, hoppers, and wasps. The gestation is about 55 to 100 days. The pups start to fly at about three weeks and are weaned at about six weeks of age.

 

 

California leaf-nosed bat

 

The California Leaf-nosed Bat is found in North America and north of Mexico. It has large ears and a triangular flap on the nose. They are grayish to dark brown on their back and have paler furbelow. Leaf-nosed bats feed on various insects such beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, katydids, and moths. They capture prey either in flight or off of foliage or the ground.

 

California leaf-nosed bats get pregnant in the fall. The baby develops slowly over the winter, followed by an average three-and-a-half-month period of rapid development in spring. Each mother produces a single pup in May or June, which she nurses for about a month. Pups are born with eyes and ears open and a body that is already furred.

 

 

Mariana Fruit bat

 

Found in the Mariana Islands, the bat weighs about 270-500 grams. Males are typically bigger than females. They have black or brown abdomens with gray hairs. The mantle and the neck are a brighter brown to a golden brown, and the head is brown or black. They have rounded ears, and their eyes are large.

 

 

Indiana bat

 

This species is medium-sized, mouse-eared, and commonly found in North America. The Indiana bat is gray, black, or chestnut and is 1.2–2.0 in long, and weighs 4.5–9.5 g. The bats live in hardwood or hardwood-pine forests. The bat eats terrestrial and aquatic flying insects, like beetles, moths, midges, and mosquitoes.

 

 

Egyptian Fruit Bat

The Egyptian Fruit bat is native to Africa, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and India. The nocturnal bat feeds on leaves and fruits such as figs, wild dates, lilacs, and loquats. The bat usually makes multiple, short flights from its roost to various fruiting trees. It prefers to pick fruit and carry it back to the roost or another tree before eating it. Females give birth after a gestation period of 115-120 days. The mother carries the pup until it is six weeks old.

 

 

Honduran White Bat

With an average length of 3.7 – 4.7 cm, Honduran white bats are tiny for a bat. The bat has a fluffy white coat. Their face, ears, nose, and parts of their legs and wings are orange and black wings. Honduran white bats live in the lowland rainforests of eastern Honduras, northern Nicaragua, east Costa Rica, and western Panama. They live in rainforests that have heliconia plants. The bats are vegetarian.

 

 

Indian Flying Fox

The Indian flying fox, also known as the greater Indian fruit bat, is native to the Indian Subcontinent. It is one of the giant bats in the world. It is capable of transmitting several viruses to humans. It is nocturnal and feeds mainly on nectar and ripe fruits, like bananas and mangoes.

They weigh 3 lbs and have winspan of 3ft.

 

The gestation period lasts for 140 to 150 days. The average birth number is 1 to 2 pups. The mother carries the young for the first few weeks of life, with weaning occurring around five months of age. Males do not participate in parental care. Young bats learn to fly at approximately 11 weeks of age.

 

 

Spotted Bat

 

Occurring in Northern Mexico and British Columbia, the spotted bat has a patchy distribution.The bat gets its name from the white spots on the shoulder and rump. The dorsal fur is black, ventral hair is lighter, pale wings and a black face. Is an insectivore and eats only moths and other insects. They are 4 inches long with a 14 inch wingspan and weigh .7 ounce.

 

 

Spectacled Flying Fox

The spectacled flying fox occurs in Australia with pale yellow fur around the eyes. Its diet mainly consists of a particular type of flowers and fruits. They are polygamous, and females give birth to one pup at a time. The young are nursed for five months. AKA spectacled fruit bat.

 

 

Sulawesi Flying Fox

 

The Sulawesi flying fox feeds preferentially on coconuts and breadfruits. The species roosts in trees—often in mangrove forests—and is somewhat sensitive to human disturbance. The bat is mostly found in Sulawesi, Buton. Their gestation lasts six weeks. AKA Sulawesi fruit bat (Acerodon celebensis) .

 

 

Tricolored Bat

This reddish, brownish, and yellowish bat is among the most miniature bats in eastern North America. The forearms are orange to red, and the wing membrane is black. Adults weigh between 4 to 10 g and reach a forearm length of 30 to 35 mm. They are easily distinguished from other similar species by their tri-colored fur. The tricolored bat feeds on insects.

 

 

Eastern tube-nosed bats (Nyctimeninae)

Appearance

These bats possess scattered yellow spots across their ears and wings along with a long tail. Eastern tube-nosed bats have long, tube-like nostrils sticking out their nose, hence, the name “tube-like.” They make a unique sort of whistling sound when they fly.

Habitat and Diet

This species of bats can be found in tropical and subtropical regions such as the Queensland coast. The yellow stains on their body give them the advantage to camouflage. As they are a megabat species, they eat a lot of fruits in their diet. Figs are found to be a delicacy for them. Many call them orchid pests too. Typically, they prefer foraging for food no more than 1 km in the distance from their nest.

Breeding

In general, they are considered solitary animals, Loners as some might say. Just a single offspring is born between October and December.

Threats and predators

Destruction to their roosts and barbed wires are some of the threats to them. Others include feral cats, owls, and tree snakes.

 

Grey-headed Flying-foxes (Pteropus poliocephalus)

Appearance

As the name suggests, the grey-headed flying fox has grey fur on its head and orange-colored hair around its neck. And the remaining body is of the color brown or black. They rank in one of the largest bats in Australia with a wingspan of about 1500 mm and weighing 60 to 1000 grams!

Habitat and Diet

They form huge colonies, counting to thousands, in any vegetation (preferably in the riparian zones). They are determined to forage for food and can travel for up to 50 km with this intent.

Their diet consists of pollen, seeds, nectar, and flowers. They can be a threat to orchards if their usual diet is in shortage.

Breeding

Female bats give birth in the spring season. But this depends upon the status of food available to them.

Threats and predators

The grey-headed flying fox is becoming extinct because of habitat loss caused by the eradication of forest areas and trees, along with prolonged droughts.

Identified Causes of death of these bats include barbed wire fences, wildfire, powerlines, and, of course, predators. Carpet pythons and sea eagles are known to hunt this endangered animal.

Microbats (Microchiroptera)

Microbats Being the larger of the two suborders of bats have over 1000 identified species! That’s a significant number. Contrary to megabats, microbats survive while eating insects, fish, birds, and blood. They, contrastingly to megabats, navigate, forage, and fly with the assistance of echolocation. It is reviewed in depth in a forthcoming section on distinct characteristics of bats.

Golden-tipped bats (Phoniscus papuensis)

Appearance

The body of these bats is covered with wooly brown fur with notable golden highlights. Their long tails and wide wings give them the advantage to maneuver and hover above the ground skillfully. Hovering is necessary for such spider-eating creatures without tangling in their webs.

Habitat and Diet

They are seen feeding upon orb-weaver spiders. They can cover a distance of 2 km from day roosts to forage for food at night. They build their nests in abandoned shelters of Brown gerygone and Yellow-throated scrubwren inclusive of tree hollows. They are also sighted inside the homes of humans.

Breeding

About 20 females can gather in reserved maternity sites( these are usually tree hollows). One baby bat is born every year between the months of November and January.

Threats and predators

Like many other types of bats, Their survival is threatened by the loss of habitat. Owls, hawks, and tree snakes are their common predators.

 

Vampire bats (Desmodontinae)

Appearance

On the whole, they are like any other bat- small in size, brown colored with pointed ears. They have sharp canines that help them in piercing the skin to suck the blood of their prey.

Habitat and Diet

Commonly, They are found in the tropics- Central America, South America, and Mexico. As the name indicates, these are blood-sucking bats. Apart from drinking the blood of sleeping birds and cattle, some are recently found also to bite humans for their blood. Bloody creatures, right?

Breeding

Females have one baby per pregnancy while having a gestation period of 7 months. The number of births rises in the rainy season.

Threats and predators

Vampire bats, being predators and prey, are eaten either by snakes while they are asleep or at the hands of eagles and hawks. In urban areas, farmers kill these bats for fear of catching rabies and other diseases they might be carrying.

 

Ghost bats (Macroderma gigas)

Appearance

Ghost bat is the largest microbat in Australia and ranks second-largest worldwide. Their body has light brown to pale grey fur and big ears adjoining their head. The wings have translucent membranes.

Habitat and Diet

These perfectly spooky bats inhabit caves and old buildings. They are found from Texas to Arizona, extending all the way to Central America. Apart from insects, they also enjoy eating lizards, gecks, and some small mammals. Ghost bats endeavor their food in the warmth of their inhabiting caves.

Breeding

Female bats give rise to a single young once a year during July and September. The maternity colonies of these cave-dwelling bats can get more than 1000 individuals.

Threats and predators

Barbed wires, reduction in old buildings, mines, and caves, and wildfires are a threat to the existence of ghost bats, AKA false vampire bats.

Pythons, dingoes, and Quolls are named as their predators.

 

Eastern horseshoe bats (Rhinolophus megaphyllus)

Appearance

A typical eastern horseshoe bat has greyish fur with pale tips, and this doesn’t change throughout its lifespan. Some of them have bright orange hair, but this varies from the age and sex of the bat.

Habitat and Diet

Like ghost bats, eastern horseshoe bats spend most of their time in caves or old structures by the water, forest, rainforest, and woodland. They eat their prey in privacy (usually taking it to their temporary nest). Moths are their prime victims, which these horseshoe bats can effortlessly hunt, given that they are skilled at hovering.

Breeding

Females of this type of bats utilize the same maternity roost every year. From October to November, they give birth to one young.

Threats and predators

Damage to caves and old shafts, and wildfires are the recognized threat to this species. Their predators are hawks, feral cats, owls, and pythons.

 

Video about types of bats:

 

 

Salient Features of Bats

In this section, I have composed all the primary characteristics of bats, including their physical features, migration, habits, and a whole lot more. So let’s dive right in.

Physical features

Below are some of the physical traits of bats.

Appearance

Although various species of bats differ a lot in appearance, they generally have rodent-like large ears, fur-covered lower bodies, and short snouts. Many bats have a hefty-looking excess piece of skin called the nose leaf enclosing the nostrils.

Bats exist in a number of colors, including brown, tan, black, red, and even grey! Some may have patches or stripes on particular body parts, while others have facial markings.

Thermoregulation

Thermoregulation is a type of homeostasis that can be defined as the ability of mammals to control their internal temperature according to outside conditions.

Bats, when fully energized, have a body temperature of approximately 37 °C (96 °F). Many bats raise their body temperature when getting up for their routine night feedings.

A sudden drop in the body temperature of bats can leave them lethargic condition.

Size and Weight

Kitti’s hog-nosed Bat (Craseonycteris thonglongyai) is arguably the smallest mammal in the world but absolutely the most miniature Bat to exist. Casually named as Bumblebee bat, its size ranges from 29 to 33 mm (equal to that of a large bumblebee). And weighs no more than 2 grams — that’s equivalent to just two Skittles!

Giant Golden-Crowned Flying Fox is the largest Bat known on the planet earth, a native to the Philippines. Its size ranges from 11 inches in length and a wingspan of about 66 inches. It weighs an impressive 3 pounds. Gather 800 Kitti’s Hog-Nosed Bats, and they still won’t equal the weight of even a solo Giant Golden-Crowned Flying Fox.

Your mind may tell you that this bat giant has a massive appetite for fresh meat; contrastingly, they are frugivores—their diet mainly containing fruits.

 

Classification of Bats

Can you think of an animal capable of flying except for birds? If you can’t come up with one, then consider Bats. They are the one and only members of the class Mammalia that can achieve actual flight.

Bats are the second-largest division of mammals, preceded by rodents. Out of 400 mammal species existing in the world, 1000 are bats. That’s 20% of the kingdom!

When it comes to their taxonomy, bats are classified as follows:

Kingdom: Animalia (Animals)

Phylum: Vertebrata

Class: Mammalia (Mammals)

Order: Chiroptera (Bats)

Bats are further split up into two sub-categories. Namely, Microchiroptera and Megachiroptera. They both differ from each other in many aspects.

Take, for example, Fawn leaf-nosed bat. It fits in the larger suborder Microchiroptera, and its classification is as follows:

Sub-Order: Microchiroptera (Microbats)

Family: Rhinolophidae (Horseshoe and Old World leaf-nosed bats)

Genus: Rhinolophus

Species: Hipposideros

Common Blossom Bat is a bat belonging to the suborder Megachiroptera. And is classified as follows:

Sub-Order: Megachiroptera (Mega-bats)

Family: Pteropodidae (Horseshoe and Old World leaf-nosed bats)

Genus: Syconycteris

Species: Syconycteris australis

Bat Conservation Trust resources.

 

Sounds And Communication

Hearing range

Bats can hear and emit sounds of frequencies two to three times the human hearing range.

Types of sounds

Their sounds can identify bats, most being ultrasonic frequencies, i.e., inaudible to human ears.

Bats are proficient at producing different sounds to communicate with each other. The sound of a bat is often called a “click.” These sounds can include chirps and distressed squeaking.

They produce these by various mechanisms, including using their nostrils for sound-making, clicking their tongues, or just generating sounds from their voicebox.

They communicate among each other through high-frequency clicks, screeches, and even songs!

A bat call- also called a “ping”- comprises various components with frequencies staying the same or changing over time.

Bat detectors

So what if humans are far from being able to experience bats producing ultrasonic sounds? We can still know how they sound by using a device called “bat detectors.”

Bat detectors record bat calls and converts them into frequencies audible to us humans. Cool, right?

Echolocation using ultrasonic sounds

Similar to killer whales, porpoises, dolphins, and some birds, bats use echolocation in foraging for food, avoiding predators, and navigating their way in the dark while flying.

As previously mentioned, bats emit sounds known as ultrasonic sounds. These are of range 9kHz to 200kHz! That is two to three times the frequency range of human beings, i.e., 20Hz to 20,000Hz.

Bats are capable of echolocation on behalf of these sounds. With their shorter wavelengths, ultrasonic sound waves are likely to bounce back to the Bat instead of diverging or bending around things. This way, bats can make up for their poor vision as echolocation helps them “see” hurdles in their path and their prey or predator ahead of them. Plus, producing ultrasonic sounds saves up the energy of a bat as they demand less energy.

Some of you might be wondering how bats don’t get confused when several ultrasonic sounds bounce back to it all at once? Well, it is because ultrasonic sounds are no ordinary sounds. They scatter quickly. Hence, bats are able to differentiate between “newer” and “older” sounds echoing in their surrounding.

Vision

Bat has been reputed to be a blind animal. But this is absolutely wrong! They do have tiny eyes with poor vision. They visualize our world in black and white colors. But some flying foxes have been found to be capable of seeing a colored version of the world.

The weak eyesight of bats is compensated by their capability to echolocate. They use it to sense objects and thor prey.

As bats do most of their activities after nightfall, they possess special photoreceptor cells that aid them in night vision.

These nocturnals are pretty sensitive to not just sunlight, but all kinds of lights annoy them. They avoid bright lights, street lights, for instance, even in the nighttime.

Nocturnality

Bats fall on the list of nocturnal mammals. They get up at night and do all their hunting and mating in darkness. During the day, they are deep asleep. Daytime is for Roosting in caves or hanging upside down under a shady tree.

Seasons for activity

Spring and summer are the activity seasons for bats. Autumn and winter are specified for mating and hibernation. They tend to gain weight by 50 to 100 percent during the Autumn season. Female bats preserve the sperm while hibernating and don’t bear a young one until the spring season.

Hibernation

Hibernation is the dormancy period exercised by many animals, like frogs, during the cold winters to survive in this harsh weather. As stated above, bats practice hibernation during the winter season. While hibernating, bats live upon the fat stored up in their bodies to stay alive without foraging for food. In this way, their metabolic rate slows down, and body temperature also drops.

For hibernating, bats opt for roosts that are cool and maintain a constant temperature. These are typically found to be underground sites, like caves.

Habits

Grooming

Bats are not able to be busy grooming themselves. They invest a significant part of day and night cleaning and brushing their fur and treating their wings, possibly more than a teen does in front of the mirror. While tidying their branches with their mouth, they oil their wings with certain secretions produced from skin glands. Usually, they use one of the claws for combing while hanging downward by the other, removing the combings and moistening the claws with their mouth and lips. They seem to be very conscious about their looks.

Segregation

Mature bats have been recognized to form colonies of similar gender often. In some species, male bats and female bats inhabit the same roost gather themselves in different clusters. In comparison, in other species of bats, males and females merge together or form a specific pattern within a group, i.e., female bats be in the center, for instance, and male ones are towards the outside. Pregnant female bats, in many species, are known to live in special nursery roosts till their young ones mature.

Locomotion

In many species, bats don’t do much movement besides flying around at night. They might change their position across the roof by moving their toehold, one claw at a time. A few might be able to crawl or walk on vertical and horizontal surfaces with the help of their hind feet, thumbs, and wrists. Many bats are skilled in moving freely back and forth to pass through narrow crevices and gaps.

Vampire bats are capable of leaping from one roost to another. Bats can’t swim by design, but if they happen to fall into the water, they are adept at swimming back to safety. The arrangement of arms and fingers tells a lot about landing, hovering, diving, and turning. Bats tend to fly in a straight line except when they are busy hunting their food or dodging several obstacles.

Migration

Migration is the act of moving from one place to another, covering somewhat a significant distance. Each year, Several bat species migrate from their summer houses to their winter roost. They appear to live in the same nests every year. Their migration is mainly done under the influence of weather and the presence of food.

To survive the winter season, bats perform migration to hibernate in a site that is humid as well as free from the risk of freezing.

Habitat of bats

A place where an organism makes its home – called roost in the case of bats – is termed a habitat.

 

Bat roosts

Bats can live in several different settings, whether it be cracks in buildings or even the dark attic on the top of your home.

You’d find them in nearly all kinds of habitats and places. Deserts, tropical forests, woodlands, open fields, cities, suburbs, caves, trees, bridges, mountains, you name it!

Some of the species also prefer to inhabit more urban areas such as barns, parks, farms, pastures, e.t.c.

Bats are likely to go for the riparian areas when seeking a spot to build their roost as water sources are present there. And water draws tasty insects such as bugs and worms for their meal.

Bats are primarily found in inaccessible places. The warmer areas, being close to the equator, seem an excellent option to them. The tropical regions, such as Central and South America, are one of the most populated by bats. Indonesia is home to the most significant number of bat species.

The only place you can expect to be free from them is the Atlantic, Arctic, Extreme deserts, and some Oceanic islands.

Diet of Bats

The diet of bats varies from species to species. From fruits to insects, to meat and even blood! They take in a lot of different kinds of food.

Fruit eaters

Bats that feed upon fruits are known as frugivores. They are usually members of the order Megachiroptera. The fruits on their menu are primarily brown or green. Mangoes, bananas, figs, and dates are some of their favorite fruits. Some Frugivores bats also eat pollen and seeds in addition to nectar from flowers.

It has been known that some frugivores drink sugar water obtained from hummingbird feeders.

Insects and Meat-eaters

A large population of bats survives by eating various tiny insects present in the environment. They locate and identify insects such as bugs and mosquitos by producing ultrasonic sounds. This method is also known as echolocation.

Other insectivorous bats eat insects such as scorpions, spiders, and beetles they find on walls, plants, or ground. They catch them either by landing and hunting them or picking them up while still in flight.

Several species of bats are meat-eaters, feeding upon much bigger prey than minor bugs. Their prey range from sleeping birds to small rodents.

They also include shrews, tree frogs, and lizards. Bats might end up eating other small bats too. They might even be able to catch a few small fish from lakes.

Bloodsuckers

Some bats can even feed upon the blood of other mammals. You read that right! Some Species of vampire bats suck the blood of birds and large mammals. Sleeping cattle, horses, and chickens are the most vulnerable ones to being bitten by bats. Some of the recent studies declare that these bloodsuckers are also a danger to us humans. Particular species feed solely upon blood. Because they don’t store fat in their bodies, they can’t go without blood intake any more than two nights.

Benefits of Bats

Guano

Bat droppings are termed guano. They are helpful to humans in many ways. (1) they are added as an ingredient in the making of agricultural fertilizers in various countries. (2) When the Civil War had broken in America, this guano was used to produce gunpowder. In history, people have also used it as a source of phosphorus and nitrogen for ammunition.

Bats: the pollinators

Bats are often associated with vulnerable, dark, and spooky stuff. In contrast, we should be thanking these creepy beings. There is a list of 300 species of fruits dependant on bats for pollination. These fruits include figs, avocados, and nuts. If it weren’t for bats, we wouldn’t see plants like the iconic saguaro cactus and agave thriving on earth. Also, We would have to wave goodbye to chocolate as cacao seeds (one of the key ingredients of chocolate) are dispersed by bats.

Medical oddities

As written above, many plants, for survival, rely on bats. As many as 80 medicines are obtained from such plants. Researches conducted on bats has led us to advancement in several vaccines. Although bats aren’t blind, discovering how echolocation helps bats fly in the dark while having poor eyesight has benefited scientists searching for ways to invent navigational aids for blind folks.

 

Diseases caused by bats

Bats are behind a bunch of diseases. Some are discussed in this section.

Australian Bat Lyssavirus (ABLV)

ABLV is a kind of virus that spreads through the saliva of infected bats. If the virus comes in contact with broken skin or a mucus membrane, it can be transmitted. Infection caused by ABLV can lead to rabies-like diseases in humans. Yet, there have been only three documented infections, all over the world, by ABLV in humans. All of them were from Queensland. Most bat bites and scratches in Queensland happen when citizens, out of sympathy, try helping injured or sick bats, which are pretty challenging to the handler. Mostly they become agitated and have sharp teeth and claws.

Precautions

  • Not to handle bats unless you are trained in handling them.
  • One must be using appropriate personal equipment and are vaccinated against the disease of rabies.
  • If you end up being bitten or scratched by a bat accidentally, immediately wash the wound thoroughly, apply antiseptic, and urgently seek medical advice about getting injections to protect yourself against ABLV.

Hendra Virus

Another kind of virus that is transmitted from bats to humans is the Hendra virus. By nature, the actual host for the Hendra virus is the flying fox, but the virus is transmitted through close contact with the body fluids of infected horses. What happens is that horses maybe get infected by eating food that has been contaminated recently by the urine, saliva, or birth products of the flying fox. Yet, there’s no evidence regarding the spread of the virus directly from the feces of flying fox to humans. This fact is evident through testing the carers of flying foxes, and the results showed no clue of exposure to the virus.

Precautions

  • Vaccination of horses is the most efficient technique to help manage Hendra virus disease. Vaccination of horses does provide public health and work health and safety benefits by lowering the risk of Hendra virus transfer to humans and other vulnerable animals.
  • Use of PPE during veterinary procedures.

 

Histoplasmosis

it’s a pretty rare kind of lung infection caused by a fungus called Histoplasma. This fungus can be infected by bats, cats, dogs, rats, horses, cattle, and other animals. If humans come in contact with the infected bats dropping, histoplasmosis can be transmitted.

 

Precautions

  • Humans who have contact with bats or bat caves for work or recreation should refrain from disclosure to dust in environments likely to be contaminated with bat droppings.
  • It is recommended to spray water over contaminated areas before cleaning them.
  • The workers with such jobs should make use of protective gear, for example, face masks, gloves, and overalls.

Human diseases that are of animal origin are called zoonoses. Different viruses mainly spread the conditions, and they evolve into outbreaks.

The outbreaks of Zoonotic diseases have increased in recent decades as a consequence of bushmeat consumption, inclusive of human encroachment into a natural habitat that involves deforestation and agricultural intensification. Therefore, few of the bat-originated zoonotic viruses have made the highlights in recent years.

Usually, bats carry those viruses, and these harm humans if come in contact, but bats are prone to them. Humans contract those viruses through ‘spillovers’ of the bats that either occur directly or indirectly by an intermediate host. For instance, cattle or wildlife that have been contaminated by blood, saliva, urine, or feces of bats.

Bats have a very prominent role in epidemics and pandemics outbreaks.

  • Ebola Virus Infection
  • Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV)
  • Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV)
  • COVID-19 (SARS-CoV2)

Some interesting facts about bats

Long lifespan

Bats are known to survive for more than 30 years. The oldest Bat was recorded to be 41 years old! They fly at a recorded speed of 60 miles per hour. You can raise this number by some ranks in many species.

Speedy hunters

Bats, having such high speed, are capable of catching up to two insects per second. And surprisingly, they can eat up to 12,000 mosquitos an hour! That is more than their total body weight.

Belly Buttons

Like other mammals, like us human beings, bats also have belly buttons from where the baby is attached to the umbilical cord.

Mama got you covered.

The offspring of a bat is attached to its mother till the time comes when they are mature enough to carry themselves easily. If, during a flight, the baby bat happens to drop from the grasp of the mother, the mama bat will not be late in catching it.

Suction cups in place of thumbs

Unlike most of the bats around the world, some bats like the Spix’s disk-winged Bat (Thyroptera tricolor) possess suction cups instead of thumbs. These come in handy when climbing up or clinging to smooth surfaces, like window panes and smooth leaves, where they can enjoy a sound sleep.

Not all bats are down to earth.

Most bats, having clenched toes, sleep in a downward position because this gives them a headstart for flying required by their tiny wings. But this isn’t the case all the time. Zoologists have identified six different species of bats that don’t hang upside down. The Spix’s disk-winged Bat (Thyroptera tricolor), as told above, has suction caps that aids them in sleeping the right-side-up.

Bear pups

The baby bats, which are only one per pregnancy, are also called pups.

In complete control of their body

The only flying mammal, the Bat, has wings that are equivalent to our hands. The gaps between their finger bones are filled with skin. And bats have the capability to control each of those bones of both the wings separately.

 

FAQ

Are bats antisocial animals?

This is just a stereotype regarding bats. All mammals enjoy social interactions, and bats are no different. They exist in large colonies that provide protection from predators. Of course, one is likely to run away from the sight of a large cluster of bats.

Where are bats during the daytime?

Bats, similar to rodents, in this case, turn out to be nocturnal mammals. This fact indicates that they are busy during the night, scavenging on insects to the fullest till the break of dawn. They spend that time fast asleep in some caves, trees, fractures in buildings, and rock crevices from sunrise to dusk. To put it briefly, bats are dead to the world throughout the daylight hours and get active as the darkness falls. But yes! There can be an exception where you come around a bat while the sun is yet to set.

Why would a bat be flying in daylight, and what should one do if one sees it?

It is unlikely for a bat to be out and about in broad daylight, as mentioned above. But if a bat does come out during the day, it is probably unwell or injured. Baby bats can do so in confusion if they have been detached from their mother. In case you catch the sight of a bat in broad daylight, give a call to an animal rescue agency to professionally handle the situation humanely and appropriately.

What is the most successful control method for bats?

Studies have declared that Building a bat house is the most effective bat control method. It is an artificial roost for bats to raise their offspring. Bats are likely to inhabit a bat house in the spring season, when they mate and breed, so you better install your bat house by the end of the winter season. Don’t assemble it in shady places, as that would make it inaccessible to the bats. The best location for you to put it up is the one with a water source in close proximity, as this attracts insects like mosquitoes, centipedes, and bugs. Bats have a tendency to construct their roost where they also have readily available food, i.e., insects and bugs.

Are there vampire bats that suck your blood?

Yes! Various types of vampire bats feed upon the blood intake of many animals. Particular species of vampire bats have even come to be known to feed only on blood. Their typical victims are sleeping cattle, horses, and birds. But some recent research has found out that human blood is also present in the menu of some of these blood-thirsty beings.

How to stay safe from bat rabies?

Bats are a common carrier of human rabies. Although the odds of individuals catching rabies are pretty rare, it is still possible. Hence, one should practice the safety measures. Better be safe than sorry.

The primary step to stay protected is an obvious one. Don’t touch the Bat. Please avoid contact with these life forms, living or dead, as far as possible. Handle them with gloves and all the other protective gear. Better leave this to the professionals.

If you do happen to be scratched or bitten by a bat, consult a doctor immediately and get all your required tests done.

What are bats seen hanging upside down?

The tendons of bats are crafted with such incredible ability that bats feel perfectly at ease while hanging upside down. In fact, they would consume more energy while sitting upright. Bats hang downward while sleeping with their wings wrapped around their body, hibernating in the cold, or even death. Amusingly, a bat can be seen hanging in reverse even after they die. Huh! Pretty down to earth, right?

How do bats enter our homes?

The answer to this question is quite uncomplicated. Seal the cracks, openings, gaps, and holes found around your place. Squeezing their bodies in gaps with a width of a dime is no complicated job for these uninvited intruders. They can find a way in your home by unclosed vents and windows too. They might roost in wood frames and walls.

Can bats make a good pet?

Although bats are fascinating animals, they are still wild. They don’t act like any other pet, such as a dog or cat, which the owner can train. Some countries may have a law against keeping bats as your pet.

What are large communities of bats termed?

They are called colonies or camps.

Bats serve our ecosystems significantly, including maintaining the proportion of unwanted insects, pollinating plants, and increasing biodiversity.