50 Interesting Facts About Bats

  1. There are more than 12,000 known species of bats. They comprise the second largest order (Chiroptera) in mammals and contain 20% of all mammal species on earth.
  2. Tube-lipped nectar bat has the longest tongue relative to the body length of any mammal. The tongue of this bat is 1.5 times longer than its body. (Source)
  3. Bats are excellent indicators of fresh and clean water in areas where water is scarce. They need water in every climate, including deserts, and only drink clean water free from insecticides and heavy metals. (Source)
  4. Bats are the only mammals with the ability to fly like birds. They are present on most parts of the earth, except Antarctica and the Polar Regions.
  5. Bracken Cave in Texas is not only the world’s largest known bat colony, but also the largest concentration of mammals in the world. There are around 20 million bats present in this cave. (Source)
  6. Around 10 million fruit bats fly from various parts of Africa to Kasanka National Park in Zambia. It is known as the biggest mammal migration in the world. (Source)
  7. Fruit-eating bats from Central and South America are among a limited number of mammals that can see UV (ultraviolet) light. It assists them to pollinate specific flowers that reflect UV radiation. (Source)
  8. Wind turbines kill between 600,000 and 900,000 bats every year. It happens because these mammals consider wind turbines as tall trees. It is possible to reduce these fatalities considerably by increasing cut-in speeds of these turbines. (Source)
  9. The flight of bats is different from birds’ flight. Unlike birds, they gain lift by flicking their wings upward and backward. Their flight is rapid, accompanied by sharp turns. (Source)
    A flying bat
    Bat's flying technique is different from birds' flight

  10. Pallid bat, native to the western USA, eats scorpions as its primary food. These bats are immune to scorpions’ venom.
  11. A fringe-lipped bat, also known as a frog-eating bat, can differentiate between safe and poisonous frogs through calls from different frog species. The fleshy tubercles on the bat’s chin may also provide information about chemicals on the frog’s skin. (Source)
  12. Nineteen mammal species live longer than humans, related to their body size and metabolic rate. Eighteen of these belong to bats. One bat species can even live for more than 40 years in the wild. (Source)
  13. During the American Civil War, Confederates used bat droppings (guano) to prepare gunpowder. (Source)
  14. A brown bat can eat up to 100% of its body weight every night. It is the reason that it can consume 1,200 insects in just 1 hour.
  15. The largest bat species in the world is the flying fox with the wing measurement of up to 5 feet. They are present in East Asia. (Source)
  16. Few bat species hibernate, few migrate, while some do both hibernation and migration. They hibernate in caves, mines, and other places with ideal temperature and humidity. (Source)
  17. Most bats are either fruit-eaters or insectivores. They usually consume fruits, seeds, pollen, mosquitoes, beetles, and moths.
  18. Kitti’s hog-nosed bat is not only the smallest bat but also the smallest mammal. This Southeast Asia-based bat can weigh as low as 2 g, having a length of 29 mm (1.14 in) and a wingspan of 15 cm (5.91 in).
  19. Bats provide several benefits to humans and the environment. They contribute in fertilizer, pest control, pollination, and seed dispersal. Their benefits of pest control worth $3.7 billion only in the USA. (Source)
  20. Vampire bats are the only mammals whose diet is solely composed of the blood of other animals (including humans occasionally). A 100-bat colony can consume the blood of 25 cows in a year. This dangerous bat species is present in the Americas. (Source)
  21. According to estimates, bat-inspired technology can assist blind people in seeing like bats using sound. (Source)
  22. Most mammals rely on helpful bacteria in their gut for digestion and immunity. But bats are the only known mammals that can survive even in the absence of these gut bacteria. (Source)
  23. Bats also carry a few dangerous pests for humans. There are more than 60 viruses in bats that can infect humans. These numbers are more than the viruses present in rodents. These viruses can cause several deadly diseases, including rabies, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), Ebola, and Nipah. (Source)
  24. Flight in bats has contributed to strong immunity. It allows this mammal to withstand dangerous viruses such as Ebola and SARS.
  25. People of Guam used to eat fruit bats as a delicacy. This eating habit resulted in the development of a lethal motor neuron disease. (Source)
  26. The initial fossil of bats is 52.5 million years old. This fossil proves that bats acquired flight earlier than echolocation. (Source)
  27. Contrary to a common misconception, bats are not blind. Most bats have unique features in their eyes. They can see well in daylight, while UV-sensitive cones in their eyes allow them to see better at twilight and detect UV-reflecting flowers. (Source)
    Bats flying during twilight
    Bats are not blind and can see at twilight

  28. During their flight, muscles in bats’ wings operate at a lower temperature than their bodies. It is due to the thin layer of skin covering these muscles. (Source)
  29. Brazilian free-tailed bats can achieve a flying speed of 160 mph in level flight. It is faster than the flight speed of any bird. (Source)
  30. A small bat from Siberia lived for 41 years in the wild. This male Brandt’s myotis is not only the oldest bat but also the oldest small mammal.
  31. Most bats are nocturnal (active at night), but there are a few diurnal (active in the day) bats. According to estimates, many bats became nocturnal 54 million years ago to avoid competition from birds that prey on insects in the daytime. (Source)
  32. Most bat species (especially those living in caves) use their sound to navigate (known as echolocation). It is their preferred way to find objects in the dark. They echolocate by using their mouth or nostrils. (Source)
  33. Few insects can jam echolocation from bats. It helps them to protect themselves from these flying mammals. A well-known example is the tiger moth, which produces ultrasonic clicks to interfere with bats’ echolocation. (Source)
  34. Another unique quality of bats for navigation is magnetism. They have a magnetic substance (magnetite) in their body that they use as an internal compass for navigation. (Source)
  35. The hearing frequency of bats is from 20 to 200 kHz. Comparatively, humans can hear sounds from 31 Hz to 19 kHz.
  36. Most of the bats hang upside down. However, at least six bat species do not adopt this position. These species stick to leaves or other surfaces through special pads on their limbs.
  37. Bats usually hang upside down (known as roosting) for rest. These mammals can accommodate this position due to their lightweight.
  38. Around 18% of bat species are endangered on a global level. It is mainly due to habitat loss, bushmeat trade, climate change, and diseases.
  39. Bats’ wings are not exclusive for flight. They perform several other functions through wings. One example is wrapping their wings around food to hold it while eating.
  40. Megabats share vision pathways and several other features with primates. It is the reason that they are considered more related to primates than microbats. (Source)
  41. Female bats in a few species transport their young ones on their back during flight. It usually happens during extraordinary situations and assists in saving the animal. (Source)
  42. Since 2007, millions of insect-eating hibernating bats in North America have died due to white-nose syndrome. There is strong evidence that the fungus responsible for this disease was transmitted from humans to bats. (Source)
  43. Bats play a significant role in pollinating more than 500 plant species. These include several famous and useful plants such as banana, mango, guava, etc. In contrast to bees that pollinate plants with bright and daytime flowers, bats visit plants with pale nocturnal flowers. (Source)
    A bat on a plant
    Bats pollinate more than 500 plant species

  44. Insect-eating bats eat thousands of harmful nocturnal insects every night. Their food includes pests like mosquitoes, flies, wasps, etc.
  45. Owls, hawks, raccoons, and snakes are the main natural predators of bats. Weasels, minks, and spiders may also consume bats.
  46. In the Western world, bats have been associated with witchcraft and magic since the Middle Ages. Bats are also used in folk medicine in different parts of the world.
  47. Female bats choose male bats for mating. Few species mate upside down. Males of just a single species of monogamous bats protect and feed the young. (Source)
  48. Bats are known as the only non-human animals that practice regular oral sex. Female short-nosed fruit bats and male Indian flying foxes have been seen doing this act on members of the opposite gender. (Source)
  49. Most of the bats are black or brown, but some also have red, white, grey, or orange fur. A few of these flying mammals have multiple colors. (Source)
  50. Bats usually give birth to a single baby each year in early summer. Mothers suckle their babies for four to five weeks.

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