Some people tell me they are having problems with bats living
in their attics, dropping feces on their walls, entering their homes or
attacking their cattle. That's why I made the section "Problems".
Visit it for guidance on bat problems, and to learn how to live in peace with
Bats are not rats! Both are mammals, but belong
to different orders: Chiroptera and Rodentia, respectively.
Bats are not blinds! And some of them have even
collor vision. They have the five senses that we know, and three extra senses!
Bats are not poisonous! The only
poisonous mammal is the platypus, which lives in Oceania.
However, bats may transmit
diseases to people, especially rabies and histoplasmosis. But all wild
animals may be sources of diseases.
No! There are 1,100 species of bats in the world,
and only three of them feed on blood. Most bats (70%) have insects as their main
Vampire bats (family Phyllostomidae, subfamily
Desmodontinae) may attack people sometimes, but their preferred prey are cattle
(bovine, ovive, suine) or large wild animals (bores, horses, tapirs, monkeys).
Bats are the group of mammals with the most
diverse diet. They feed on insects, small vertebrates (frogs, fishes, rats,
birds), fruits, seeds, leaves, nectar, pollen and blood. Species vary from high
specialization on one kind of food to an omnivorous diet.
There are at least 1,100 species of bats in the
world, according to Simmons (2005).
Bats have day roosts, where they sleep, form
colonies and spend most of their time, and night roosts, where they eat food. As
day roosts, bats may use caves, rock crevices, hollow trees, tree barks, large
leaves (e.g. palms), holes in the ground, and human constructions, like attics
Probably, most bats sleep and hang upside down,
because they descend from quadruped ancestors (shrews and hedgehogs). So, during
the course of their evolution, they invested a lot in transforming arms into
wings, and legs were left behind and became weak. Following another evolutionary
path, birds descend from biped ancestors (a group of dinosaurs), so their legs
were already strong and were kept this way.
Almost all bats give birth to only one pup at a
time, but some may have two pups, and only a few may have up to four pups.
Considering their small size, bats are the most
long-lived mammals. Some small species of the genus Carollia, for
instance, may live 15 years in the wild (Fleming 1988). Some species of
Vespertilionidae may live more than 30 years (Barclay et al. 2004). And the
world record is held by one individual of the species Myotis brandtii,
which lived 38 years (Khiritankov & Ovodov 2001)!
According to Nowak (1994), the largest bat of the
world is the flying-fox
vampyrus, with a wingspan of 1.7m and occuring in Asia. However, Kunz & Jones (2000)
say that this species may reach only 1.5m of wingspan, and they also say that
maybe individuals of the species
Acerodon jubatus may be larger and heavier. The smallest bat on earth, which
is also the smallest mammal, is Craseonycteris tonglongyaii from Thailand,
weighting only 1g.
Flight speed depends on the species. Some records
Bat Conservation International
point out that
Tadarida brasiliensis may fly
at speeds of 96km/h, and is probably one of the fastest bat species.