Things to know about bats (besides that they are amazing and one of my favorite animals):
- Bats are the only mammals capable of true flight. (Sorry, flying squirrels.)
- There are almost 1,000 bat species worldwide, and bats make up a quarter of all mammal species on earth.
- 70% of bats consume insects, helping keep the insect population down wherever they make their homes. A single little brown bat can eat up to 1000 mosquitoes in an hour, and can live almost 40 years. (Must be that healthy diet.)
- Other bats eat fruit, nectar, and a few eat small animals. South America is home to the famous (but tiny and mostly harmless) vampire bat.
- Bats can be found almost everywhere in the world except at the north and south poles and in extreme deserts.
- Some (but not all) bats use echolocation – emitting a sound and then waiting for it to bounce back to them – to find their way around, find food, and avoid predators and mid-air collisions.
- Some species are solitary, and others form colonies. Some colonies have a million or more individuals.
- A baby bat is called a pup, and most litters consist of just one pup.
- At birth, a pup weighs up to 25 percent of its mother’s body weight. (Imagine a human mother giving birth to a 30 pound baby. Never mind, stop imagining that, or you won’t be able to sleep tonight.)
- Bat wings are an example of pentadactyly, or ‘five-fingered-ness,’ meaning that a bat’s wings are structurally similar to human’s hands or a dog’s paws. Their very long fingers – and the membrane that stretches between their fingers – give them wings instead of hands or paws.
- While some bat populations number in the millions, many are in decline. A disease called White-Nose Syndrome has killed over six million bats in the US since 2006, and continues to be a threat to many bat populations.
(Posted today as my Day 2 entry in the Blogging from A to Z Challenge)