Fact Sheet
Bats

Basic Facts About Bats

Bats are the only mammals capable of true flight. With extremely elongated fingers and a wing membrane stretched between, the bat’s wing anatomically resembles the human hand. Almost 1,000 bat species can be found worldwide. In fact, bats make up a quarter of all mammal species on earth!

Bat, © Kevin Davis

© Kevin Davis

Diet

70% of bats consume insects, sharing a large part of natural pest control. There are also fruit-eating bats; nectar-eating bats; carnivorous bats that prey on small mammals, birds, lizards and frogs; fish-eating bats, and perhaps most famously, the blood-sucking vampire bats of South America.

Population

While some bat populations number in the millions, others are dangerously low or in decline.

Range

Did You Know?

A single little brown bat can eat up to 1000 mosquitoes in a single hour, and is one of the world's longest-lived mammals for its size, with life spans of almost 40 years.

Bats can be found almost anywhere in the world except the polar regions and extreme deserts.

Behavior

Echolocation
Some bats have evolved a highly sophisticated sense of hearing. They emit sounds that bounce off of objects in their path, sending echoes back to the bats. From these echoes, the bats can determine the size of objects, how far away they are, how fast they are traveling and even their texture, all in a split second

Bats find shelter in caves, crevices, tree cavities and buildings. Some species are solitary while others form colonies of more than a million individuals.

Did You Know?

Giant flying foxes that live in Indonesia have wingspans of nearly six feet!

Overwintering
To survive the winter some species of bat migrate, others hibernate, and yet others go into torpor (regulated hypothermia that can last from a few hours to a few months).

Reproduction

Gestation: 40 days - 6 months (bigger bats have longer gestation periods)
Litter Size: Mostly one pup
For their size, bats are the slowest reproducing mammals on Earth. At birth, a pup weighs up to 25 percent of its mother’s body weight, which is like a human mother giving birth to a 31 pound baby! Offspring typically are cared for in maternity colonies, where females congregate to bear and raise the young. Male bats do not help to raise the pups

 

 

More on Bats: Threats to Bats »

You may also be interested in:

In the Magazine
Arkansas is the 23rd state stricken with the deadly white-nose syndrome in cave-dwelling bats after state biologists confirmed its presence in two northern long-eared bats in January.
In the Magazine
The Virginia big-eared bat will devour half its weight in bugs every night during warm weather months. Come winter hibernation, though, the bat could be in for a chilling reality.
In the Magazine
In the race to save bats affected by the deadly white-nose syndrome, scientists from Michigan Technological University are using chemical “fingerprinting” to identify where bats hung out the previous summer.