All about Bats
Discover everything there is to know about your favourite winged mammal!
Bats are the only flying mammals. Like all mammals, they suckle their young until they are fit and ready to forage for themselves. They have a thin, elastic wing membrane between their fingers and legs that gives them the acrobatic flight capacity. The scientific name for their wings is Chiroptera which translates to ‘hand wing’. Such a ‘hand wing’ allows better maneuverability in flight and thus allows bats to be such remarkable flying mammals.
There are more than 1.000 bat species around the world, who can be found in every continent except Antarctica.
Lending from their unique wing morphology, bats are classified as either Mega-bats Megachiroptera or Micro-bats Microchiroptera. Mega-bats are tropical and ‘Old World’ bat species from Africa, Asia and Australia. They have large wingspans and bodies just like the Golden-Crowned Flying Fox with a 1.5 meter wingspan and weighing up to 1.2 kilograms. Mega-bats have fox like faces with long noses, large eyes and/or small ears. Micro-bats on the other hand, have smaller wingspan and bodies and can be found worldwide. Unlike Mega-bats, they have diverse and distinct facial features. Differences between the two classification also extends to their diet with Mega-bats primarily feeding on fruit, flowers and nectar and Micro-bats feeding primarily on insects and other broad and other diverse items.
Bats (except most fruit bats) orientate and hunt by means of a highly sophisticated system of echolocation, emitting high-frequency calls that beyond the range of the human ear. Most fruit bats, such as the Grey headed flying-fox, have larger eyes and a sharp sense of smell as they find food by sight and smell.
Echolocation helps bats avoid collisions and help locate their prey as calls bounce off obstacles or prey. They make calls as they fly and listen to the returning echoes to build up a sonic map. Bats are sophisticated hunters and some bats can even distinguish between different insect species by their wing-beat frequency.
Bats have a low reproduction rate and a long life expectancy – one baby per year and can live up to 30 years. They are warm blooded animals with the ability to regulate their body temperature and are also able to maintain their energy efficiency by reducing their body metabolism.
Fascinating winged mammals!