Bats are amazing little furry, flying creatures that are primarily nocturnal, meaning that they are most active at night. These animals are mammals just like humans, but over time they developed wings that allow them to fly. Bats are the only mammals truly able to fly. Almost all bats eat insects and fruit or other plants. Fruit-eating bats also spread seeds for new plants to grow! A few species are also carnivorous, meaning they eat other animals such as frogs or other smaller creatures. Bat droppings are known as guano and is a very valuable source of fertilizer. There are over 1,000 different species of bats. Some of the most common species are the brown bat, big eared bat, vampire bat, and leaf-nosed bat.
A lot of people have a misunderstanding about bats and they are often feared by people. For example, the vampire bat is often feared to sneak into peoples’ homes at night and bite them on the neck and suck their blood. While this particular species of bat does actually drink the blood of cattle and other large animals, they do not pose a threat to human beings. Another common myth about bats is that they serve no purpose in our ecosystem. The truth is that bats can help keep the insect population at bay, particularly pesky mosquitoes. Some people call bats “flying rodents” but in reality they are small mammals that perform an important duty in our environment.
A very interesting element of the bat is how the animal gets around. Most bats are blind, if not partially blind, but they are able to move with pinpoint precision. This is because bats have excellent hearing, and can emit a sound wave against surfaces, this is called echolocation. This sound wave allows them to “feel” their way around without bumping into things.
Most bats reside in caves where there can be several hundred living at one time. During the night, they venture out and look for food. Some bats hibernate during the winter. When the little brown bat enters his winter slumber he slows his heartbeat down to 20 beats per minute, and can even stop breathing! Some people like to install bat houses near their homes to provide a place for bats to live and rest. They’re also a great way to observe these animals up close and keep your backyard mosquito free. Fun Fact: One single bat can consume as many as 600 mosquitoes in just one hour!