There are a lot of different kinds of bats in the world. No, we donít mean THOSE kinds of bats!

We mean THESE kinds of bats! A lot of people think bats are creepy. What bats are is NEAT. Come and visit the world of bats and find out for yourself.

 

Did you know that bats are the only mammals that are able to fly?  There is a mammal called the "flying squirrel"  but it doesn't fly.  It glides through the air and then has to climb a tree to be able to glide again.  Bats really fly.  Their wings are thin, delicate membranes stretched across their arms and fingers. 

Most bats have very poor eyesight, but can find their way around much better than we can.  How do you think they do that?  

They use echolocation, which is the same way that ships and submarines get around, but they call it sonar.  Bats make very high chirping and clicking noises.  These sounds bounce off things and back to the bats' very large, sensitive ears.  That tells them where stuff is,  which is a pretty neat way to get around - since it doesn't really matter if it's day or night for it to work.

Bats usually sleep during the day,  hanging upside down in caves and other quiet places.  If you build a bat house,  you may be lucky enough to have bats living on your property.   Although many bats eat fruit and nectar,  many also eat small insects;  a bat can clear a lot of mosquitoes out of your yard!  If you live in an area where there are bats,  you can often see them as it starts to get dark and you may see them passing near lights.  Since they are all very dark in colour,  they're not easy to see, so you'll have to pay attention. Some people are afraid that bats will get tangled in their hair.  No chance!  A bat's echolocation is so accurate that it can easily maneuver to within a few millimetres of where it wants to be, and it doesn't want to be in a human's hair!  Maybe you can't get around very well in the dark,  but the bats are smart enough to stay out of your way.

Many bats migrate,  but some hibernate in caves, hanging upside-down all winter long.  Hibernating bats,  like all the other animals that hibernate,  can lower their heart rates dramatically and reduce their body temperatures,  allowing them to go for very long periods without eating.  That's why, if you know where bats hibernate you should never disturb them.

Did You Know?   Bats are from the order Chiroptera (ki-ROP-ter-ah) which is a Greek word meaning "hand-wing."

If you think that a bat is a bat is a bat... you're in for a surprise!  There are almost one thousand different types of bats, which is almost one quarter of all mammal species.   Bats can be broken down into two major groups.  The megabats are also known as Old World fruit bats and they are quite large.  They are only found in Africa, India and Australasia.  The microbats,  which are much smaller,  are distributed all over the world.

Bats are truly wonderful mammals.  Wildlife rehabilitators who work with bats really enjoy their work.  Because bats have been the victims of many superstitions and silly stories,  people have been afraid of them and have treated them very badly. 

Bats are very beneficial animals.  They eat many insects such as mosquitoes,  and they are responsible for pollinating at least 500 different types of plants.  Scientists estimate that if bats were to disappear,  many of these plants would disappear with them,  as would all the different animals who depend on these plants.  That makes bats pretty important.

The smallest bat in the world is the Kitti's hog-nosed bat, which is only 3cm. (1 in) long, and the largest is the Malayan flying fox (now that's an odd name for a bat!) which is 41cm long (16 in) and has a wingspan of 1.7 metres (5.6 feet.)

Bat Families

When there are lots of different species of mammals,  we often combine them into families,  which helps us keep track of them.   Here are all the bat families.  Some of them have links,  so you can find out lots more about bats.

Old World Fruit Bat Mouse-tailed Bat Sheath-tailed Bat
Fish-eating Bat Hollow-faced Bat False Vampire Bat
Horseshoe Bat OW Leaf-nosed Bat NW Leaf-nosed Bat
Moustached Bat Vampire Bat Funnel-eared Bat
Smoky Bat NW Sucker-footed Bat OW Sucker-footed Bat
Short-tailed Bat Free-tailed Bat
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