Bat Facts and Trivia
- Bats are ancient animals that have been around at least 50 million years. Despite this incredible length of time they still look much like their fossil ancestors.
- Bats are the only mammal that is truly capable flight. Of the nearly 4000 species of mammals in the world—there are over 1000 species of bats, that means they make up over 25%.
- Bats are in the order Chiroptera which means "hand-wing". Bats are either classified as Megachiroptera (large hand-wing) or Microchiroptera (small hand-wing).
- Bats are gentle mammals and will typically bite only if frightened or provoked. Many species are social and some have even been known to care for each other's young.
- The smallest mammal in the world is the Bumblebeebat from Thailand, which weighs less than a penny. The largest bats are the flying foxes, one of which has a six foot wing span.
- Bats eat a large variety of foods. Different species of bats specialize on fish, frogs, insects, fruits, small mammals and even other bats.
- Only 3 species of bats drink blood. Vampire bats feed on the blood of birds and mammals; they are found only in Central and South America.
- Many tropical bat species are sometimes called keystone species. Many plants rely on bats to spread their seeds and to pollinate flowers. Some of these plants include columnar cacti, bananas, mangoes, cashews, dates, figs, and agave. Agave is used to produce tequila, the seed production in this plant drops substantially without bats as pollinators.
- Bat droppings (guano) is an excellent fertilizer and is actually mined for that purpose in some countries. Salt peter used in artillery shells was once made from bat guano.
- Contrary to popular belief, bats have very good eyesight, but most can’t see in the dark any better than we can. In addition to vision, bats use sound (echolocation) to navigate in the dark and find food.
- Bats reproduce very slowly, most females have only one pup per year. Bats that survive to adulthood may live more than 30 years. The oldest bat on record is Myotis brandtii in Russia - recaptured after 41 years.
- A group of bats is called a colony and bats live in roosts. Their natural roosts are caves, rock crevices and trees (where they hang from branches, under loose bark, in cavities and in moss). Many bat species have adapted to the loss of natural roosting habitat by roosting in man-made structures such as buildings, bridges and culverts. Unfortunately that successful adaptation seems to have back fired and bats in buildings are often unwelcome and vulnerable.
- Forty-five bat species are found in the United States. At least 6 of these are on the Endangered Species List, many others (nearly 40%) are classified as threatened, rare, or status undetermined.
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