Amazing Bat Facts
Amazing Bat Facts
Bats are beneficial. They eat insects and pollinate plants and play an important role in keeping ecosystems healthy and in balance. Many myths are associated with bats, such as the saying “blind as a bat.” This isn’t true. Bats can see quite well. Another myth is that bats get caught in people’s hair. They don’t. Nor are bats destructive pests like rats and mice. In fact, a colony of bats could cut down on unwanted mosquitoes around your house and help keep your garden free of insects.
1. The world’s smallest mammal is the bumblebee bat of Thailand, weighing less than a penny.
2. Giant flying foxes that live in Indonesia have wingspans of nearly six feet.
3. The common little brown bat of North America is the world’s longest lived mammal for its size, with life-spans sometimes exceeding 32 years.
4. Mexican free-tailed bats sometimes fly up to two miles high to feed or to catch tail-winds that carry them over long distances at speeds of more than 60 mph.
5. The pallid bat of western North America is immune to the stings of scorpions and even the seven-inch centipedes upon which it feeds.
6. Fishing bats have echolocation so sophisticated that they can detect a minnow’s fin as fine as a human hair, protruding only two millimeters above a pond’s surface.
7. African heart-nosed bats can hear the footsteps of a beetle walking on sand from a distance of more than six feet.
8. Red bats that live in tree foliage throughout most of North America can withstand body temperatures as low as 23 degrees F. during winter hibernation.
9. Tiny woolly bats in West Africa live in the large webs of colonial spiders.
10. The Honduran white bat is snow white with a yellow nose and ears. It cuts large leaves to make “tents” that protect its small colonies from jungle rains.
11. Disk-winged bats of Latin America have adhesive disks on both wings and feet that enable them to live in unfurling banana leaves (or even walk up a window pane!).
12. Frog-eating bats identify edible from poisonous frogs by listening to the mating calls of male frogs. Frogs counter by hiding and using short, difficult to locate calls.
13. Vampire bats adopt orphans and have been known to risk their lives to share food with less fortunate roost-mates.
14. Male epauletted bats have pouches in their shoulders which contain large, showy
15.patches of white fur that they flash during courtship to attract mates.
16. Mother Mexican free-tailed bats find and nurse their own young, even in huge
17.colonies where many millions of babies cluster at up to 500 per square foot.
18. Nearly 1,000 kinds of bats account for almost a quarter of all mammal species, and most are highly beneficial.
19. Worldwide, bats are important natural enemies of night-flying insects.
20. A single little brown bat can catch 1,200 mosquitoes-sized insects in just one hour.
21. A colony of 150 big brown bats can protect local farmers from up to 33 million or more rootworms each summer.
22. The 20 million Mexican free-tails from Bracken Cave, Texas eat approximately 200 tons of insects nightly.
23. Tropical bats are key elements in rain forest ecosystems which rely on them to pollinate flowers and disperse seeds for countless trees and shrubs.
24. In the wild, important agricultural plants, from bananas, breadfruit and mangoes to cashews, dates, and figs rely on bats for pollination and seed dispersal.
25. Tequila is produced from agave plants whose seed production drops to 1/3,000th of normal without bat pollinators.
26. Desert ecosystems rely on nectar-feeding bats as primary pollinators of giant cacti, including the famous organ pipe and saguaro of Arizona.
27. Bat droppings in caves support whole ecosystems of unique organisms, including bacteria useful in detoxifying wastes, improving detergents, and producing gasohol and antibiotics.
28. An anticoagulant from vampire bat saliva may soon be used to treat human heart patients. Contrary to popular misconception, bats are not blind, do not become entangled in human hair, and seldom transmit disease to other animals or humans.
29. All mammals can contract rabies; however, even the less than a half of one percent of bats that do, normally bite only in self-defense and pose little threat to people who do not handle them.
30. Bats are exceptionally vulnerable to extinction, in part because they are the slowest reproducing mammals on earth for their size, most producing only one young annually.
31. More than 50% of American bat species are in sever decline or already listed as endangered. Losses are occurring at alarming rates worldwide.
32. Loss of bats increases demand for chemical pesticides, can jeopardize whole ecosystems of other animal and plant species and can harm human economies.
33. The young bats, known as pups, are born in spring. The newborn bats are blind and furless and are nursed by their mother until they are 6 weeks old. Young bats begin to fly by the time they are a month old.
34. Bats are unique they are classified in their own special order of mammals, called Chiroptera. Chiroptera means “hand-wing,” referring to how the finger bones of a bat support its wings.
35. Agricultural plants from bananas to cashews, dates, and figs rely on bats for pollination and seed dispersal.
36. Like humans, bats are mammals. Bats are the only mammals that actually fly, flapping their wings to propel them in flight. Some mammals, such as flying squirrels, only glide rather than fly.
37. Because they consume quantities of “bugs” such as mosquitoes, bats are a natural form of insect control. For instance, one little brown bat can catch 600 mosquitoes or more an hour.
38. Bats have been around a long time, since the age of dinosaurs. Ancient bats resembled those living today. Except for the most extreme desert and polar regions, bats today live in almost every kind of habitat worldwide.
39. Bats have some amazing abilities:
Mexican free-tailed bats can fly 10,000 feet high. Townsend’s-big eared bats can pluck insects from foliage.
40. Hibernating little brown bats can stop breathing for almost an hour during hibernation to reduce their energy needs.
41. Fishing bats have an echolocation system so sophisticated they can detect a minnow’s fin as fine as a human hair.
42. The Honduran white bat, a colorful snow-white bat with yellow nose and ears, cuts large leaves to make “tents” to protect its small colonies from drenching jungle rains.