FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

   

This section aims to answer common questions made by visitors of the Bat House.

 

1. I'm having trouble with bats. What should I do?
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 with bats". Visit this page for guidance on bat problems, and to learn how to live in peace with them.


2. Are bats old rats?
Bats are not rats! Both are mammals, but belong to different orders: Chiroptera and Rodentia, respectively. See "Who are bats".


3. Are bats blind?
Bats are not blind! And some of them have even collor vision. They have the five senses that we know, and three extra senses!


4. Are bats poisonous?
Bats are not poisonous! The only poisonous mammal is the platypus (subclass Monotremata), which lives in Oceania. However, bats may transmit diseases to people, especially rabies and histoplasmosis. But all wild animals may be vectors of diseases.


5. Are all bats vampires?
No! There are at least 1,116 species of bats in the world (Simmons 2005), and only three of them feed on blood. Most bats (70%) have insects as their main food.



6. Do bats attack people?
Vampire bats (family Phyllostomidae, subfamily Desmodontinae) may attack people sometimes, but their preferred prey are cattle (bovine, ovive, swine) or large wild animals (bores, horses, tapirs, monkeys).



7. What do bats eat?
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.


8. How many kinds of bats are there?
There are at least 1,116 species of bats in the world, according to Simmons (2005).


9. Where do bats live?
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 and bridges.


10. Why do bats sleep upside down?
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 with a quadrupede strucutre. Additionally, there was a twist in the knee joint, and now bat knees fold backwards. Therefore, it is impossible for bats to stand on their feet. Following another evolutionary path, birds descend from biped ancestors (a group of dinosaurs), so their legs were already quadrupede and strong and were kept this way.


11. To how many pups do bats give birth at the same time?
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, like in the genus Lasiurus.


12. How long does a bat live?
Considering their small body size, bats are the most long-lived mammals. Some small species of the genus Carollia, for instance, weight 15g but 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)!


13. Which is the largest bat of the world? And the smallest?
According to Nowak (1994), the largest bat of the world is the flying-fox Pteropus 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. In Brazil there are also big bats, like Vampyrum spectrum with a wingspan of 1m, and tiny bats, like Myotis nigricans that weights only 4g.


14. At what speed do bats fly?
Flight speed depends on the species. Some records made by Bat Conservation International  point out that Tadarida brasiliensis may fly at speeds of 96km/h, and is probably one of the fastest bat species.