Bats are called Chiroptera in Greek, meaning hand and wing. Commonly considered as spooky, scary or creepy, they actually do play a vital role in our Eco system that few might know. They pollinate fruits and eat a lots of insects to keep the insect population in control. Apart from that, bats have some extraordinary physical characteristics and behaviors. Come and test your knowledge with us as we are going to explore some fascinating facts about them.
1. Bats are the only flying mammals on the planet and have the second largest population after rodents. They make about one third of the world’s total mammal population. There are 2 main types of bats, Megachiroptera or fruit eaters and Microchiroptera or non-fruit eaters.
There are around 1300 species of bats and can be found all over the world except Antarctica. They can be of many sizes also, like the Kitti’s hog nosed bats (Bumble bee bat) grow 29-35 millimeters, whereas the Golden crowned flying foxes have wingspans of a staggering up-to 5-6 feet.
Birds and bats both evolved to fly but, bats made it in a different way. Birds have arm bones along with the forward ridges that support a large trailing edge composed of feathers. Whereas, bats have very long fingers that go all the way from the front to the back of the wing, and the fingers are covered by a thin membrane of skin called a patagium. But, they glide through the air and flap the wings much less than birds.
They always rest hanging upside down. It is not possible for any other kind of mammal but, bats do it by some serious evolution. They have a tremendously overpowered heart, which keeps the blood circulate at toe end while hanging. Also, they have many one way valve arrangements in their veins. It keep the blood from blocking in head and keep recirculate throughout the body. The heart beat can be as low as 4 times a minute when hibernating and go as fast as 400-1100 times while flying.
Must Read: Alpaca
5. Bats flap their wings very fast when needed. They have weird shunts between arteries and veins, and muscular areas at the outer wingtips that can squeeze the blood back inwards so that the blood can be recirculate. It keep the blood from not getting trapped at the outer wing edges due to centrifugal force.
They are not the only flying mammals but, also the fastest mammals on earth. They fly at a speed of 90kms per hour, whereas the Mexican free tailed bats can speed up-to 160kms an hour. Bats are also able to fly at height of 10000 feet and cover 400kms on a single night.
Also Read: Koala
7. They are not blind and their vision is fine but, they rather use echolocation for hunting and navigation. It is an effective process in complete darkness, where the creatures emit inaudible low frequency sound and hear for the bounced back echo. The time gap between emitting and receiving can be judged by distance, shape or the direction of a moving object. So, bats never collide with any obstacles and find their food effectively. But, all of the species do not use this technique, as the fruit eaters rely on their eyesight to find fruits.
They eat a lot of insects, a single bat can eat up-to 1200 mosquitoes or a small group can consume over 6000 bugs per hour. Every night they eat almost about their own weight or more, but never have any fat day, their effective metabolism can digest fruits in 20 minutes. Bracken cave, Texas is home of the largest bat colony in the world, with more than 20 million Mexican free tailed bats, every night they consume several tons of insects and keep the insect population checked.
Also Read: Leopard
They are designed to hang upside down to avoid predators. Hence, developed extraordinary feet also. Yes, their feet are different, human hands remain open in normal position and muscle contraction needed to close them, but bats are opposite. Their feet are closed naturally and they use muscle contraction to open them. So, they don’t need extra force to grip the tree branches.
Those extraordinary feet do not help them to walk or hop, so bats hang for another purpose. When need to fly, they just loose the grip and free fall to gain speed. They can’t start flying like a bird, instead they need a speed start. If fall in ground, they need to climb a tree and jump to fly again. Only the vampire bat can walk easily on ground, they walk sideways, forward and backward like spiders.
They do hibernate but, not all of the species. The Spotted bat migrate to warmer areas by following the bugs, whereas some take a long nap during the freezing temperatures. They keep warm by folding their wings around them, trapping air against their bodies for instant insulation, and they are even able to survive after being encased in ice.
Also Read: Cheetah
12. Without bats, about 300 fruits won’t be available anymore. These fruits like nuts, figs, cacao, agave, saguaro cactus, that depend on bats for pollination.
Females give birth of only one pup a year. Mother can find their baby in thousands or millions of other bats by the unique voice and scent. Having only one pup a year is another reason making them more vulnerable to extinction.
14. Bats have bigger brains than birds. It is believed for the better survival-ability their require throughout the seasons in their habitat. They can identify a human by the way of breathing.
The bat droppings or Guano are considered as highly effective fertilizer due to the substances like nitrogen, phosphate and potassium contain within.
All bats do not feed on blood except the vampire bat. There are 3 types of blood feeders, the Common vampire bat, the Hairy legged vampire bat and the White winged vampire bat. But, none of them attack on humans.
17. They live less than 20 years in the wild, but some species can live up-to 30 years. In 2006, a tiny bat from Siberia recorded 41 years old when died.
Bats are considered endangered in the United States due to a disease called white nose syndrome. It is an unidentified fungus that affects on the nose and wings of hibernating bats. In spite of habitat loss there are millions of bats died due to this disease, and scientists are still studying to understand it.