Click the speaker to hear the Bat!
ARE BATS ANWAY? Bats are the only
mammal that really flies. (Flying squirrels
just glide down from a high spot.) As mammals,
they are warm blooded, have fur, give live birth, and make milk for their babies. There are over 900 kinds of bats, but only about
ten live in northeast
Be sure you NEVER handle a Bat in the wild! Click here to learn about Bat wings.
WHAT DO BATS EAT? Almost all bats eat insects. In fact, one brown bat can eat up to 3000 mosquitoes each night, so bats definitely benefit people! Since there are lots of insects during the summer, that is the best time to look for bats. Try looking around light poles. Insects are drawn to the light, and the bats follow them there. During the winter, when most of the insects die off, bats dont have anything to eat. So, during the summer, they pig out and get really fat, almost doubling their body weight. There isnt much to eat during the winter, so some kinds of bats migrate, while others hibernate.
To see a Bat eat a worm, click here! Be sure you NEVER handle a Bat in the wild!
HOW DO THEY HUNT? Youve probably heard someone say blind as a bat. Actually, bats can see. But since most bats come out at night or sundown, they dont rely on their eyes very much. In the dark, a bats excellent hearing is much more important. Bats keep their big ears very clean. While they are flying, they make high-pitch squeaks. Some of these squeaks are too high for people to hear, but the bats hear them. When those squeaks hit a tree or a bug, the sound bounces back at the bat. As soon as he hears it, the bat knows what is in front of him. If it is a tree, he flies around it. If its a bug, he flaps towards it and captures it by wrapping his wings or tail membrane (skin) around it like a scoop. Then he bites the insect with his sharp teeth. All this happens while hes flying, and thats why bats look like theyre doing acrobatics in the air. Fancy flying is a bat specialty. When they are thirsty, they fly low over a lake and scoop up water in their mouth without splashing in! Most bats do eat insects, but some eat tiny fish, fruit, or pollen and nectar. In fact, bats pollinate many plants, just like a bee or a butterfly!
HOW DO THEY HANDLE WINTER: MIGRATE or HIBERNATE? Most bats live in rain forests and jungles,
(which we dont have in
EVER HEARD OF A VAMPIRE BAT? Everyone has heard of the vampire bat. Well, dont worry; they dont live in
WHAT ABOUT BABY BATS? Some bats live together in big colonies during the winter. Several hundred males and females may huddle for warmth, hanging upside-down in a cave or old building. In the summer, only females (girls) live together in a maternity (mother) colony of up to several hundred bats. Each mother bat has one or two babies in early summer. The babies cling to their mothers furry belly and drink milk. The mothers and babies all huddle together for warmth. If you ever find a maternity or mother colony, leave immediately. If you scare the mothers, they will probably drop their babies and accidentally kill them. Baby bats can fly after only one month, and are full grown after two or three months. They live from ten to thirty years.
HOW CAN WE HELP BATS? Although owls, hawks, raccoons, and snakes will eat
bats, they dont do it often. People are
the bats greatest enemy because we destroy their habitat and disturb their
hibernating and maternity roosts. Today, many
people are hanging bat boxes on trees near their homes. These wooden boxes are easy to build and have
narrow spaces inside for the bats to sleep. If
you put a bat box up where there are plenty of insects and a source of fresh water, the
bats may move in next door! To find out how to
make a bat house, you can write Bat Conservation International, Inc.
WHAT ABOUT DISEASES? Just remember, NEVER handle a wild bat! They bite and can give you rabies. If you are bitten by a bat, youll have to get rabies shots to make sure you dont get this disease. The best thing to do is NEVER touch, feed, or approach a wild animal.
Harvey, Michael J. Bats of the Eastern United States. Tennessee: Arkansas Game and Fish Commission and US Fish and Wildlife Service, 1992.
Bat Conservation International, Inc. "Bat Facts and Amazing Trivia." http://www.batcon.org
Desert USA. "Bats." http://www.desertusa.com/jan97/du_bats.html (27 Jan 1997).
Provided by the Pelotes Island Nature Preserve
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