Bats are the only mammals capable of flight. These animals have spread to all parts of the world (except Antarctica) and there are more than 1,200 species. Although for some, bats are a cause for concern, they play an important role in the ecosystem: bats serve to pollinate and disperse seeds of flowers and trees, as well as consume millions of insects. Many of these insects are pests that destroy crops, affect livestock and people’s health.
There is a belief that bats are blind, but in reality they have excellent eyesight and use it for many activities such as orientation and searching for prey.
At night, when they go hunting, they make use of a special ability called echolocation. Bats make sounds and wait for the echo or sound waves to bounce off objects. Bats can tell the distance of objects by how fast sound waves bounce back to them.
- Not all bats feed on blood, of the more than 1200 species of bats, only three do: the common vampire bat, the hairy-footed vampire bat and the white-winged vampire bat.
- The vast majority of bat species are insectivorous (feed on insects), others are vegetarian, and few are carnivorous or piscivorous (eat fish).
- The largest bat is known as the flying fox, this huge bat can weigh 2.6 pounds (1.2 kg) and have a wingspan (size with wings fully spread) of around six feet (1.8 m). Unfortunately, due to the deforestation of the tropical forests of the Philippines, where it is native, this incredible animal is in danger of extinction.
- The botfly bat is the smallest of all, it is native to Thailand and is in a vulnerable state. It measures about five centimeters with its wings open and weighs about two grams. With its wings closed it is the size of a bean!
- Some bats are solitary, while others live in colonies of 20 to 50 million members.
- At birth, the young depend on the mother and drink her milk until they can fly. Most bats are born blind and hairless.