Have you ever heard of folklore? Folklore is a story that is passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth. One of the most popular folklore is the story of vampires. Vampires are thought to suck human blood, sleep during the day, and have the ability to turn into BATS! Bats are amazing animals, but vampires have given these unique creatures a bad name! Read on to learn some interesting facts about bats and why they should be admired, not feared!
Different Types Of Bats
There are over 1,400 different species of bats, and they are found in almost every part of the world except for extreme deserts and polar regions. 47 species of bats live in the United States. While 21 species live north of the US in Canada, and 240 species live south of us in South America.
Common Species Of Bats
Some bat species are a little more commonly spotted than others. The three most common species of bats found in the areas of Canada and North/South America are:
- Little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus)
- Mexican free-tailed bat (Tadarida brasiliensis)
- Big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus)
The Little brown bat lives throughout the northern parts of the United States and Canada. It is not often seen in the southern states like the Big brown bat. This bat is found in Alaska, central Canada, the United States, Caribbean islands, Mexico, and Central America. It even lives all the way in northern South America. Finally, the Mexican free-tailed bat lives mostly in Texas and Mexico.
The Largest and Smallest Species Of Bats
Bats are not all the same size. The size range is as big as 16 inches in length with a wingspan of 5 feet to just 33 millimeters and weighing about 2 grams. So, which bats are the largest and which bats are the smallest?
The three largest bats are:
- Golden-crowned fly fox (Acerodon jubatus)
- Great flying fox (Pteropus neohibernicus)
- Hammer-headed Bat (Hypsignathus monstrosus)
Don’t worry. You won’t come across any of these bats in your backyard unless you live in the Philippines, New Guinea, or Africa.
The three smallest bats are:
- Lesser bamboo bat (Tylonycteris pachypus)
- Hog-nosed bat (Craseonycteris thonglongyai)
- Proboscis bat (Rhynchonycteris naso)
The Lesser bamboo bat and the Hog-nosed bat, also known as the tiny bumblebee bat, are found in Asia. The Proboscis bat’s habitat is in Southeastern Mexico, Central America, and South America. These bats prefer warmer climates.
The Bat’s Body
Bats are mammals. They have hair on their body and give birth to live young. Also, they breathe through their lungs, feed their babies milk, and have a backbone. The cool thing about these amazing creatures is their ability to fly. They are the only flying mammals!
Bats have strong claws and sharp teeth. Bats need strong claws to hold their body weight as they sleep upside down. Other big parts of the bat’s body are the bat wings, arms, wing membranes, fingers, legs, and tail.
Bats are most active at night and in complete darkness. So they are unable to use their eyes to see. Bats use echolocation. Echolocation is when the bat emits sound waves, and they bounce off an object. The echo returns to the bat and provides information about the object’s size and distance.
The majority of bats live in caves, rock crevices, old buildings, mines, trees, and bridges. Different species will choose different places to live. Some bat species, like the Red bat, live in dead trees or hollow trees. Some bats, like the gray bats or the Mexican free-tailed, live in a colony. A colony is a group of bats.
Bracken Cave is located in the northern part of San Antonio. Over 15 million Mexican free-tailed bats live within the cave. It is the world’s largest known bat colony! If you visiting some bat attractions in Texas, the Congress Ave bridge is a very popular one too! Every night between mid-March and early November, the “Austin” bats come from under the bridge to find food. It is a very popular and unusual tourist attraction in Austin, Texas. You won’t find many bugs near the bridge because bats control the insect population very well!
Bats are nocturnal creatures. This means they sleep during the day and are active at night. This is why many make their homes in dark places. Bat habitats are being destroyed daily due to urbanization (building homes, cities, etc.) and even human disturbance. Bat houses are a great way to help. Put one up in your backyard, and you will be giving a home to a bat and keeping bugs out of your yard.
Mother bats form a maternity colony and look for a safe place to raise and care for their babies together. Most mother bats are pregnant for about 6 to 9 weeks, and most bats only give birth to one baby at a time. Baby bats are called pups.
Bat pups stay close to their mothers and drink milk for about 4 to 5 weeks until they are old enough to fly. They will then begin to fly and find their own food. Remember, bats are the only mammals that fly!
In 2021, the bat population in North America was and still is declining! All species of bats are facing a pandemic. White-nose syndrome is a disease caused by a cold-loving fungus. It has killed more than 6 million bats since it was first detected. It was found in an upstate New York cave in 2006. It threatens some species to almost extinction, like the northern long-eared bat.
Fun Facts About Bats
Bats may be one of the most feared flying animals, but they are pretty cool creatures. Want to learn some interesting facts about bats?
- Old world fruit bats are named after the “old world,” which refers to southern Europe, Asia, and Africa.
- The common Vampire bat is the only species that feed exclusively on blood.
- The Spotted bat always lives near water like a spring, creek, river, or lake.
- Depending on the species, bats can reach up to 100 mph.
- Bats can eat 1,200 mosquitos in an hour.
These are just a few cool facts about bats!
Bats are one of the most helpful species to humans. They not only control the insect population, but they help pollinate plants and disperse seeds. They are a vital part of the ecosystem and must be protected, not feared!