Average lifespan: 30 - 40 years
Size: 29–33 mm (1.14–1.30 in) in length
Weight: 2 g (0.07 oz) in mass
Bats are flying mammals. The forelimbs of bats are webbed and developed as wings, making them the only mammals naturally capable of true and sustained flight. By contrast, other mammals said to fly, such as flying squirrels, gliding possums and colugos, glide rather than fly, and only for short distances. Bats do not flap their entire forelimbs, like birds, but instead flap their spread out digits.
How many types of bats are there?
There are about 1,100 bat species worldwide, which represent about twenty percent of all classified mammal species. About seventy percent of bats are insectivores. Bats are present throughout most of the world and perform vital ecological roles such as pollinating flowers and dispersing fruit seeds. Many tropical plants depend entirely on bats for the distribution of their seeds.
What do bats look like?
After rodents, bats are the most numerous mammals on earth. Like most fruit bats, the straw-colored fruit bat is rather large (insectivorous bats are generally smaller). Its wings are long and tapered to a pointed tip. Males have a bright orange ruff and wings are black, which contrast with the tawny body fur. Bats are very agile even on land, scuttling quickly over objects and squeezing themselves through small openings.
Where do bats live?
Bats are primarily found in forests and savannas. Colonies of bats roost together in tall trees.
When are bats active?
With few exceptions, bats are nocturnal and emerge from their daytime roosts only when the light of day is fading. During the day fruit bats often roost hanging upside down in the exposed branches of trees. Other species also prefer to roost upside down in large colonies that may number in the millions in dark caves, or in smaller groups in crevices, hollow trees and around houses.
What is special about the bat?
Bats are the only mammal that can take to the sky on flapping wings. Wingspans range from over 5 feet in the fox bat to 6 inches in the hog-nosed bat. Many species of bat are found worldwide in tropical and temperate climates.
What do bats eat?
70% of bat species are insectivorous, locating their prey by means of echolocation. Of the remainder, most feed on fruits. Only three species sustain themselves with blood. Some species even prey on vertebrates: these are the leaf-nosed bats of Central America and South America, and the two bulldog bat species, which feed on fish. At least two species of bat are known to feed on bats: the Spectral Bat, also known as the American False Vampire bat, and the Ghost Bat of Australia. One species, the Greater Noctule bat, catches and eats small birds in the air.
What is the difference between old and modern bats?
The appearance and flight movement of bats 52.5 million years ago were different from those of bats today. Onychonycteris had claws on all five of its fingers, whereas modern bats have at most two claws appearing on two digits of each hand. It also had longer hind legs and shorter forearms, similar to climbing mammals that hang under branches such as sloths and gibbons. This palm-sized bat had broad, short wings suggesting that it could not fly as fast or as far as later bat species. Instead of flapping its wings continuously while flying, Onychonycteris likely alternated between flaps and glides while in the air. Such physical characteristics suggest that this bat did not fly as much as modern bats do, rather flying from tree to tree and spending most of its waking day climbing or hanging on the branches of trees.
Can a bat see?
Although the eyes of most microbat species are small and poorly developed, leading to poor visual acuity, none of them are blind. Vision is used to navigate microbats especially for long distances when beyond the range of echolocation. It has even been discovered that some species are able to detect ultraviolet light. They also have a high quality sense of smell and hearing. Bats hunt at night to avoid competition with birds, and travel large distances at most 800 km, in their search for food.
How does a bat listen by using its eyes?
In its nightly search for food, a bat's secret weapon is echolocation. Focusing on a tasty morsel, a clicking sound is emitted through its mouth or nose. The time it takes for the sound to return to the bat's highly receptive ears reveals the size and location of the object.
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