A Crash Introduction to Bats:
-Bats are the second largest order of mammals (after rodents), representing about 20% of all classified mammal species worldwide
– There are about 1,240 bat species divided into Two Suborders:
-The lesser specialized of the two suborders are largely fruit-eating bats (megabats, or flying foxes).
-The second suborder are the mostly highly specialized (more commonly feared / recognized) echolocating microbats.
-A few species, such as the fish-eating bat, feed from animals other than insects….with vampire bats being hematophagous, or feeding only on blood.
-However, about 70% of bat species are insectivores. The. majority are frugivores, or fruit eaters.
Now onto some of the more the freaky/neat bat feats:
- Bats are the only mammals that can fly.
- And though they’re often compared to rats or mice (which aren’t too off, feature and size-wise, sans the whole….wing bit.)
- In the case of the fruit-bat, birds especially differ in that the bird’s wing has a fairly rigid bone structure, made up long digits. Again not too mouse like, either…
- But, in shape and structure, when viewed through an xray, “It is very much like a human arm and hand, except it has a thin membrane of skin (called the patagium) extending between the “hand” and the body, and between each finger bone…..
- The “thumb” extends out of the wing as a small claw, which bats use to climb up trees and other structures to hang, feed and breed in; this also helps them reach a high “launching point” for flight takeoff…
- Appropriately, the order of bats is called Chiroptera, Greek for “hand-wing.
- (The main flying muscles which move the bones at the point where the wing connects to the body” says Tom Harts, who writes about animals, mammals and more fascinating bat facts here on: howstufforks.com; He goes on to argue that bats can move the wing like a hand, essentially “swimming” through the air.
- After students successfully guided and bated bats through the dark with piecesof string (bats which, had until then, previously been known as purely blind.)
- To prove such a drastic point was period, it was not proven conclusively until a biology student at Harvard University disscovered that while doing some esearch on a locally native species,in the 1930’s– the “little brown bat,” that bats use echolocation to locate and catch their prey.
- When bats fly, they produce a constant stream of high-pitched sounds. When the sound waves produced by these sounds hit an insect or other animal, the echoes bounce back to the bat, and guide them to the source. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bat )
- Hence why moths, who generally are also nocturnal, fly so “unsteadly”–their rapid, unpredictable flight patterns make it difficult for bats to “find” them, since echolocatgion obviously proves faulty…(https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bat#cite_note-Lauber_P_1968-70)
Feeding and diet
- The majority of food consumed by bats includes insects, fruits and flower nectar, vertebrates and blood.
- Almost three-fourths of the world’s bats are insect eaters.
- Bats consume both aerial and ground-dwelling insects. Each bat is typically able to consume one-third of its body weight in insects each night…that’s several hundred insects in a few hours! This means that a group of a thousand bats could eat four tons of insects each year.
- If bats were to become extinct, it has been calculated that the insect population would reach an alarmingly high number.