Bats Are:
Cool!

Cool!

Yes, bats are definitely cool. More than 1,300 bat species worldwide display an amazing diversity as species evolved over at least 60 million years to survive in wildly varied habitats and food chains.

Here’s a few other things you might not know about bats of the world:

  • The world’s smallest mammal is the bumblebee bat of Thailand. It weighs less than a U.S. penny. And the giant flying foxes that live in Indonesia have wingspans of up to six feet.
     
  • The Brandt’s myotis of Eurasia is the world’s longest-lived mammal for its size, with a lifespan that sometimes exceeds 38 years.
     
  • Mexican free-tailed bats sometimes fly up to two miles high to feed or to catch tailwinds that carry them over long distances at speeds of more than 60 miles per hour.
     
  • The pallid bat of western North America is immune to the stings of the scorpions and centipedes on which it feeds.
     
  • Fishing bats have echolocation so sophisticated that they can detect a minnow’s fin, as fine as a human hair, protruding only two millimeters above a pond’s surface. And African heart-nosed bats can hear the footsteps of a beetle walking on sand from more than six feet away.
     
  • The tube-lipped nectar bat of Ecuador has what is believed to be the longest tongue relative to body length of any mammal. Its tongue is up to 1½ times as long as its body.
     
  • The Honduran white bat, with its yellow nose and ears, roosts in ‘tents’ it builds by nibbling on large leaves until they fold over.
     
  • Frog-eating bats identify edible from poisonous frogs by listening to the mating calls of the males. Frogs counter by hiding and using short, difficult-to-locate calls.
     
  • Mother Mexican free-tailed bats find and nurse their own young, even in huge colonies where many millions of babies cluster at up to 500 individuals per square foot.
     

As you can see on this website, most bats are rather cute and endearing. Note the puppy dog-look of fruit bats and flying foxes, the compact faces of insect eaters and the long snouts of pollinators that reach deep into flowers for nectar.

Here are a few typical examples:

Marianas flying fox
Pteropus marianas


Marianas flying fox
© Merlin D. Tuttle, BCI

 

Mexican long-nosed bat
Leptonycteris nivalis

Mexican long-nosed bat
© Merlin D. Tuttle, BCI

 

Other bat faces are a bit, well, bizarre. Like these:

Banana bat
Musonycteris harrisoni

Banana bat
Courtesy of Rodrigo Medellín

 

Lesser naked bat
Cheiromeles parvidens

Lesser naked bat
Courtesy of Tigga Kingston

 

Eastern sucker-footed bat
Myzopoda aurita

Roosts head-up (unlike other bats) with suckers that adhere to leaves in Madagascar.

Easternsucker-footed bat
© Merlin D. Tuttle, BCI

 

 

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