Are Bats Blind?: 10 Things That Might Surprise You

merlin-5326 1. Bats are NOT BLIND! They have eyes and can see just like you or me. They can navigate in total darkness through echolocation–they send out a high-pitched signal through their nose or mouth and receive the echo back to “map” their surroundings.

2. Bats are the only true flying mammal. Flying squirrels do not really fly, they simply glide from a higher spot to a lower spot.

3. Bats can detect an object thinner than a human hair with their advanced sonar. They are expert flyers, making the idea of them getting tangled in one’s hair ridiculous! This is just another myth!

bat-19284. Bats are not dirty and they do not all carry rabies. Like cats, bats groom themselves regularly. Less than one half of one percent will contract rabies and unlike raccoons or foxes who get rabies, bats go off alone to die and are not aggressive. More people die every year from their own pets than have died from bat rabies in the last 40 years. The best thing to do is never handle a sick or injured bat. The best thing you can do to protect yourself and those you love from rabies is to never touch or try to pick up a sick or injured animal.

bat-19555. Bats fly with their hands! The latin word for bat is Chiroptera which means “hand-wing” because a bat’s hand is really its wing. Thin membranes stretch from finger to finger to create wings.

6. One fifth of all mammals are bats. Worldwide there are more than 1300 species of bats. Most bats–2/3 of them, eat insects or other small invertebrates. 1/3 feed on fruit or nectar. One percent eat fish, mice and other small vertebrates. Finally, 3 species of the 1300 feed on blood. These live in Latin America and have been important in research that has lead to medicine to treat heart patients.

7. Bats are not flying mice! Bats are actually closer related to primates and people than they are to rodents.

8. Bats do not all live in colonies or caves. Some bats, like the red bat are solitary. They might live in the hollow of a tree, in the forest, in barns or abandoned buildings, and even under leaves on the forest floor. Click below to watch a large bat colony exiting a cave in Thailand, filmed by me several years ago.

9. For their size, bats are the slowest reproducing mammals on earth. Each female usually gives birth to just one pup in the spring. Females will mate in the fall and retain the sperm in her body but not become pregnant until after the winter.bat-2121

10. For their size, bats are one of the longest living mammals. Some can live up to 40 years!

Bonus:  The smallest bat in the world weighs less than a penny and is called the bumblebee bat. The largest bat is called a Flying Fox and has a wingspan of 6 feet. Flying Foxes feed on fruit and nectar and live in Thailand, Indonesia, and Australia. Click below to see some Lyle’s Flying foxes leaving their roosts in the trees at dusk in Thailand, also filmed by me.

 

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