Bats are the only
mammals that can fly. They have a fur covered body, and wings
that are covered with smooth skin. The scientific name for
bats is Chiroptera, a Greek word which means hand-wing. There
are two main kinds of bats in the world. Megabats eat fruit
and plants and can have a wing span up to six feet. Microbats
are insect eaters and can weigh less than a penny.
Most bats use echolocation (ek-o-lo-ka-shun)
when hunting for food and to find their way in complete darkness. Sound waves come out of a bat's mouth or nose. Here
is what it sounds like when a bat is using echolocation.
Some bats have a growth around their nose which is used like
a megaphone. When the sound waves hit the object, an echo comes back
to the bat. The bat
then interprets the echo to determine the object's shape, size, and
Bats also use sound to help them find food and avoid
flying into things in the dark.
They make very fast “squeaks” of sound.
These sounds are very high pitched and most cannot be heard
by humans. Some bats
produce up to five hundred sounds per second!
Most bat's ears are very large and have many ridges and folds. They give bats the ability to hear a wide range of sounds.
Flying at Night Movie
Most bats are light and
built for flying. Most bats
fly only at night and roost in dark places during the day.
For this reason, most species are black, brown, and gray in
Bat's wings contain
four long fingers which support the smooth skin and a short thumb that
contains a sharp hooked claw which is used for grasping.
Because their knees only bend backward, bats are only able to
hang upside down. They use
their feet, which have five, short-clawed toes, to support them when
are found throughout the world. The
greatest number are found in the tropics, but bats can also live in
deserts, fields, and even cities!
The only place bats do not live is in the Arctic.
Most microbats eat
insects that fly at night such as moths, mosquitoes, flies, and beetles.
They use echolocation to locate their prey.
Some larger microbats use their wings like gloves to catch
insects. When hunting for food, bats use echolocation. It
sounds something like this.
Megabats eat soft fruits
such as mangos and bananas. Others
use their tongues to sip nectar from the bottom of flowers.
As they drink, the bats spread flower pollen which helps produce
seeds for many tropical fruits.
mate in the fall and winter, but their babies are not born until spring.
Most bats only have one baby at a time.
Special caves serve as “maternity wards” where only pregnant
moms are allowed. When
their babies are born, bat moms will hang them on the cave's ceiling
packed very tightly together. After
the moms return from feeding, they will nurse the first baby they see,
even if it is not their own. At
birth, a baby bat is one-fourth the size of its mother.
Moms are able to carry their baby in flight at first.
Baby bats learn to fly and capture their own food in about a
Other Interesting Facts |
Did you know that....
According to researchers, a substance in the saliva of
vampire bats contains a clot-busting substance that may be able to dissolve blood
clots in stroke patients?
Bat droppings, or “guano,” are a main ingredient in plant food
because they are rich in nitrogen.
help control the number of insects in nature.
They eat many insects we consider pests such as mosquitoes.
In China, bats are symbols of
happiness. The five bat symbol represents five Chinese blessings; long life,
health, wealth, virtue, and a gentle death.
to make a Bat House
Video of bats on tree created
by page author Taylor at the Milwaukee County Zoo. 8 April 2006.
World Book Online Reference
Center. 2005. World
Book, Inc. 20 December, 2005. <http://www.worldbookonline.com/wb/Article?id=ar049100>.
“Echolocation: and How
It Works.” 28 December 2005. <http://members.aol.com/bats4kids/echo.htp>.
Lavine, Sigmund A. Wonders
of the Bat World. Dodd, Mead
& Co. 1969.
Bats. Kids Can Press Ltd. 2003.
using echolocation from www.batcalls.org. April,
of the flying bat at the top of the page from "Microsoft
Office Online" <http://office.microsoft.com/clipart/default.aspx?lc=en-us&cag=1>
February, 2006. Clip art available only to licensed users for non-commercial
Permission to use
photographs of the bat sleeping, the eating bat, and the bat in flight
are granted under the terms of the GNU
Free Documentation License from Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia.