Bats are basically mammals of the order Chiroptera with their forelimbs adapted as wings and are the only mammals that are capable of sustained flight. Bats are the second largest order of mammals after rodents and comprise over 1,400 species.
The smallest bat is ‘Kitti’s hog-nosed bat’, which is approximately 24–34 millimeters in length, 150 mm across the wings, and 2–2.6 g in mass, and the largest bats are the ‘flying foxes’.
They were traditionally divided into two suborders: the megabats, and the microbats, but recently they are being divided into ‘Yinpterochiroptera’ and ‘Yangochiroptera’, where the former includes megabats along with some species of microbats.
Bats are usually found everywhere throughout the world, with the exception of extremely cold areas. They play a very crucial role in the environment and are important for pollinating flowers and dispersing seeds.
Even though these creatures are being ignored by the majority, they have some extraordinary characteristics and interesting facts concerning their lives and livelihood that deserve appreciative recognition and are going to be discovered and discussed at length in this article.
17 Interesting Facts about Bats
The main intention of this article is to present 17 most distinctive and fascinating facts about Bats by concentrating primarily on their nature, behavior, eating habits, lifespan, livelihood, and characteristic features.
1. How long do Bats live?
On average, Bats can normally survive for about 10-20 years. However there are certain species of Bats that can live upto 30 years or even more!
Since Bats are mostly active during the night time, they generally are able to avoid most of the predators and lead a much longer lifetime.
They don’t expose themselves too much to other larger animals that can hurt them or decrease their life expectancy, and at the same time, their flying ability and natural habitat contribute to their longer lifespan.
2. How long can Bats live without food?
Bats can usually survive for about 12-24 hours without food or water. However, their span of survival depends on various factors such as their size, species, the time of the year, or the time they nurse their young ones.
3. What do Bats eat?
The dietary preferences of Bats vary greatly, solely depending on their species, that ranges from feeding on fruits, seeds, pollen, nectar, insects, arthropods, rodents, other bats and small animals, to even the blood of some other animals!
Most of the Bats eat insects such as beetles, moths, and mosquitoes, and are therefore called insectivores. There are some Bats that feed on fruit, seeds, and pollen from flowers and are called frugivores, where their favorite foods include figs, mangoes, dates, and bananas.
There are some Bats that are carnivorous in nature and eat birds, fish, frogs, lizards, and even other bats.
Last but not the least, there are some Bats that drink the blood of other animals! Yes it’s true! These Bats are called Vampire Bats and there are only three types of Vampire Bats all living in Central and South America.
4. Do Bats lay Eggs?
The answer is No! Since Bats are mammals too, they don’t lay eggs. Rather like any other mammal, they give birth to a baby Bat Pup and the mother Bat takes care of her baby until the baby grows up to take care of himself and is able to fly.
Bats give birth to their young ones in the same manner as any other mammal and most of the species of Bats are usually found giving birth to only one pup at a time.
They gather in colonies to give birth and they do that surprisingly by hanging upside down!
Most Bat’s pregnancies last up to nine weeks, although the period may change depending on their species, for instance, in the case of Vampire Bats the pregnancy period is 5-7 months.
5. What eats Bats?
Predators of Bats generally include mammals, birds, large insects, and other animals like snakes, some fishes and humans too!
There are a number of predators that continuously keep their eyes over Bats and feed upon them whenever they have an opportunity to do so.
These include mammals such as weasels, minks, raccoons and other bats; birds such as owls, hawks and common grackles; insects such as large spiders and centipedes; and other animals such as snakes, fishes, bullfrogs and humans.
6. What is a group of Bats called?
A group of Bats is generally called a ‘Colony’, ‘Cauldron’, ‘Camp’ or ‘Cloud’.
Most of the Bats like to form groups in order to socialize and avoid the danger of predators. A Colony of Bats consists of a dozen to a hundred of Bats.
A Camp of Bat is basically a large group of Bats hanging inside a cave in the dark. A Cauldron of Bats is just another term for a group of Bats, and a Cloud of Bats is a term to denote a group of Bats flying in the sky.
7. Are Bats Marsupials or Omnivores or Carnivores or Herbivores?
Bats are primarily Placental mammals, with their feeding habits totally dependent on their different species and thus vary largely.
Bats are not Marsupial animals since they don’t exhibit any of the distinctive features as portrayed by these animals.
These animals have a shorter gestation period and help their young ones to grow fully inside their pouches. Bats have a comparatively longer gestation period and don’t have pouches.
Bats don’t show many other features of Marsupial animals and are therefore categorized under Mammalian animals.
The eating habits of Bats solely depend on their distinctive species and are primarily Omnivores that can feed on both the plant produces as well as animal meats.
Almost 70% of Bats feed on insects and are insectivores, a subgroup of Carnivores. There are some Bat species that consume fruits, pollens, and nectars portraying Herbivorous characteristics.
At the same time, there are Bats, such as the Vampire Bats that feed on the blood of different animals. Thus, their eating approach is primarily based on their distinctive species.
8. Do Bats attack Humans?
Bats are by nature very gentle animals and do not attack humans until and unless they are provoked by people.
People generally tend to get into trouble with Bats when they attempt to pick them up or provoke them by trying to relocate them.
Any wild animal is going to act defensively if someone attempts to provoke him or the Bat himself finds that person suspected of being a threat. It is therefore in their own self-defense, that Bats sometimes may fly after people.
9. Do Bats have Eyes?
Bats do have eyes! They have small eyes with a very sensitive vision that helps them see in darker conditions.
Unlike humans, Bats don’t have a sharp and colorful vision for which they are not capable of having perfect eyesight during the daytime.
Their sensitive vision is therefore very useful for their nighttime duties, to find food, avoid predators and navigate throughout their roosts.
10. Can Bats fly from the Ground?
Most of the Bat species cannot take a flight from the ground since they require to drop atleast 2-3 feet before they fly.
Bats generally cannot take off from the ground because of their distinctive anatomy. Their wings are not strong enough to lift them from total stillness, so they have to drop from an elevated point before they can fly, excluding Vampire Bats and Burrowing Bats.
11. Can Bats see in the Dark?
Most Bats have a poor vision as compared to any other night hunting creatures but that doesn’t mean that they are totally blind. Rather they can sometimes see better than most of the humans.
Although Bats can see, they have an extremely sensitive eyesight that is not capable of sharp and colourful vision.
Their vision is primarily based on low-light conditions that are provided during the dawn and the dusk.
For hunting at night, these creatures utilize their extraordinary hearing capabilities and use echolocation, i.e relying on their echoes to find their way and prey.
12. Bats Vs Birds
Both Bats and Birds are able to fly, this similarity is perhaps the only similarity between these two distinctive creatures.
They have far more differences than similarities, where the first one is that while Bats are classified as mammals, Birds are classified as aves.
Bats reproduce their young ones in the same way humans and other mammals produce and they also produce milk to feed their babies.
On the other hand, Birds lay eggs and forage to feed their young ones. Bats have jawbones with sharp teeth, whereas Birds don’t have bones or teeth but have beaks.
The most defining characteristic of a bird is that it has feathers. Bats, on the other hand, don’t have features but has fur or hair like any other mammals.
Bats have lungs and they breathe mostly like humans, but Birds usually have a respiratory system with more chambers and air sacs in order to get more air, since they fly and their respiratory system requires more oxygen.
While bats do have vision, they are nocturnal animals and use echolocation to find their way and prey in the dark.
Birds, on the other hand, have standard vision that particularly relies on light reflecting off surfaces. Some birds like hawks and owls have a highly developed vision, but that is too light-based vision and not sound-based.
13. Do Bats have Feathers?
The answer is No! Bats do not have feathers at all.
Since Bats fall into the category of mammals, they generally do not constitute of feathers like the Birds. This is a major difference between Bats and Birds.
While only Birds are known to have feathers, Bats have some amount of fur or hair like any other mammalian creature.
Their wings are made up of membranous skin and not feathers, that stretch over their arms and fingers.
14. Are Bats the only Mammals that can fly?
YES of course! Bats are the only mammals that can perfectly fly.
While the flying squirrel can basically simply glide for a short distance, Bats, on the other hand, are exceptionally talented to fly in the true sense by utilizing their flexible membranes and wings.
These wings allow them to have a powerful flight and make them a unique creature as well as the only mammal to be capable of flying in the whole world.
15. How Smart are Bats?
YES, Bats are quite smart and intelligent by nature.
Although their intelligence level is constantly been debated, it is believed that Bats are generally very intelligent.
Especially the flying fox seems greatly intelligent because they exhibit curiosities regarding some items and appear to recognize people who enter their arenas.
Most Bat species use echolocation for hunting and therefore these exceptional features of Bats do require extensive intellectual capabilities.
16. Why do Bats come out at Night?
Bats generally come out at night to avoid some of their predators, and at the same time benefit from the reduced competition for food at night.
Bats are adapted to take the full advantage of the night time. It’s the night time when insectivore Bats find their favorite insects such as moths and mosquitoes and can avoid some of their own predators.
Since they are naturally equipped to navigate throughout the night using echolocation that no other animal is capable of doing, they tend to take full advantage of this ability and thus comes out primarily during the nighttime.
17. Do Bats have Venom?
YES, there are some of the species of Bats that are venomous in nature.
The Vampire Bats, including the common vampire bat, the white-winged vampire bat, and the hairy-legged vampire bat produces toxic saliva that is generally venomous and is used by them as an anti-coagulant for the victim’s blood.
They are naturally equipped with these features to be able of sucking blood from the body of their prey.
Therefore it is evident that these creatures are far more interesting and fascinating as compared to any other mammal. The distinctive characteristics of Bats make them exceptional creatures in the world.
They are the only mammals that are capable of flying and using the echolocation tool for hunting. Their visionary capabilities may not be superior to any other animal, yet consists of some unique features in itself.
This article has enquired into the questions relating and concerning the Bat’s livelihood, nature, characteristics, eating habits, unique abilities, and capabilities.
They are considerably different from Birds and at the same time exhibit distinctive characteristics that are absent in most mammals too, which makes these creatures unique and proves that they deserve a lot more recognition and appreciation than they normally get.