10 brilliant bat facts!
Discover these fantastic flying mammals…
These cool critters have something of a sinister and spooky reputation – but they don’t deserve it! Come on gang, let’s check out some brain-boggling bat facts…
1. There are more than 1,300 bat species!
That makes them the second most common group of mammals, after rodents. In fact, around a fifth of all mammals on Earth are bats!
2. Bats are found almost everywhere on Earth!
Other than the polar regions, extreme deserts, and a few isolated islands, bats live in every habitat on Earth. Many species spend their time in huge tropical rainforests, while others inhabit grasslands, woodlands, and wetlands.
3. Some species weigh less than a penny, while others have a whopping 1.8m wingspan!
Some of the biggest bat species are part of a group known as megabats! These whopping bats live in the tropics, where they hang out in trees, snacking on fruit, nectar, and pollen.
DID YOU KNOW?
The majority of bats are known as ‘microbats‘. Unlike their megabat cousins, these species come out at night to munch on insects.
4. Bats sleep upside-down
Whether hiding in dark caves, sneaking into old tree hollows, or even living in the roofs of old buildings, all bats need a safe place to snooze – where they hang suspended from their feet! Scientists think this sleeping strategy allows bats to easily escape from predators, as they can drop straight into flight.
5. Most bats use sound to ‘see’ the world around them
This nifty navigation system is called echolocation! Bats send out waves of sound from their mouths or noses, which bounce off their surroundings right back to their ears. By listening to the echoes, bats can build up a picture of exactly what’s around them – including juicy insects!
WEIRD BUT TRUE!
Have you ever heard the phrase ‘blind as a bat’, to describe someone who can’t see very well? Well, this old saying is totally inaccurate, as bats have good eyesight as well as awesome hearing!
6. Ancient civilisations worshipped bat-like gods
The Aztecs celebrated many Gods including Mictlāntēcuhtli, the principle God of the Dead. This ancient deity had a scrunched, bat-like face and clawed hands and feet!
CALLING ALL TEACHERS!
Check out our Aztec Civilisation primary resource for more on these amazing ancient people.
7. The scientific name for bats is Chiroptera, which means ‘hand wing’
Look closely and you’ll see why… Each bat wing is actually a thin layer of skin stretched between four long fingers and a thumb! In fact, the structure isn’t all that different to a human hand, or a crocodile’s foot. Wow!
8. Blood-sucking ‘Vampire bats’ are real… Eek!
There are three species of blood-drinking bats, but don’t worry – they tend to prey on livestock like cattle and horses, attacks on humans are very rare! Vampire bats can be found hunting at night in Mexico and other Central and South American countries.
9. When in flight, bats hearts beat 1,000 times a minute!
Some bat species can eat up to 1,200 mosquitoes an hour during their nightly hunts. With such busy feeding frenzies, their bodies are working overtime!
10. Bats are hugely important for people and the planet
Did you know, bats are pollinators, just like bees and butterflies? In fact, hundreds of plant species rely on bats to pollinate them, including fruits like bananas, avocados, and mangos! The bats then poop out the seeds, helping to disperse new trees.
Plus, bats all over the world eat millions of insects every night, protecting people from diseases spread by insects and reducing the amount of pesticide that farmers need to use to keep their crops bug-free. Cool!