12 Captivating Facts About Bats
With these incredible bat facts, learn more about the only flying mammal. Bats are one of the most fascinating creatures and there are nearly 1,500 species of bats worldwide.
Whether you’re looking to learn more about bats during Bat Week (last week in October) or just curious about them, these facts about bats are captivating.
It’s not unusual for bats to be called creepy or scary or gross, but bats are vital species to our lives. They pollinate fruits (especially bananas, avocadoes, and mangoes), eat pesky and disease-carrying insects, and more.
1. Bats are fast!
In general, bats can fly at speeds of 60 mph (or more)! Researchers at The University of Tennessee found that the Mexican free-tailed bat could reach speeds up to 100mph.
2. Not all bats are nocturnal.
That’s right. While most bats are nocturnal, there are some that have been observed hunting and active during the day. One of these is the Blyth’s horseshoe bat.
3. Bats can find their food in total darkness.
Of the bats that are nocturnal, they can locate their food (insects generally) by emitting inaudible high-pitched sounds and listening for echoes. This process is known as echolocation.
4. Bats consume their body weight in insects every night.
Bats can eat up to 1,200 mosquitoes each hour. This is incredibly important as it keeps bug populations in check.
5. The largest bat colony is located in Texas.
The Bracken Bat Cave in Texas is home to millions of Mexican free-tailed bats that call this home between March and October.
6. The world’s largest bat is known as the “flying fox.”
The flying fox bat has a wingspan of up to six feet. It lives on various islands in the South Pacific.
7. Bats in the United States need help!
More than half of the bat species in the United States are listed as endangered or are in severe decline.
As bats have very few natural predators, this is due to loss of habitat and white-nose syndrome. It has killed over 90% of northern long-eared, little brown, and tri-colored bat populations in less than a decade.
8. Bat offspring are called pups.
Most bats have just one pup each year, which doesn’t help in terms of increasing the population. Bat mothers can seek out their babies among thousands (or more) of other bats by their unique voices and scents.
One species, the eastern red bat, does commonly have twins.
9. Bats can survive freezing temperatures.
Some bats hibernate during the winter months in caves. But bats can also survive freezing temps, even after being encased in ice.
Other bat species (like the spotted bat) survive the winter by migrating to warmer areas.
10. Bats are the only flying mammal.
Bats are the only true flying mammals, whereas flying squirrels can glide for short distances.
11. Bats are medical marvels.
Roughly 80 medicines come from plants that rely on bats for their survival. Additionally, studying how bats use echolocation has helped them develop navigational aids for the blind.
12. Some ancient civilizations worshipped bat-like gods.
The Aztecs celebrated many gods including Mictlāntēcuhtli, the God of the Dead. The deity had a scrunched, bat-like face and clawed hands and feet.