Bats are the only flying mammals. There are more than 900 species of bats that make up the Chiroptera group.
|Little brown bat affected by White-nose syndrome|
Chiroptera comes from the Greek words for "hand" and "wing." They are named this because their wings are actually very long hands and the skin stretches over the fingers to create wings. In many languages, the word for "bat" is cognate with the word for "mouse": for example, chauve-souris ("bald-mouse") in French, murciélago ("blind mouse") in Spanish, saguzahar ("old mouse") in Basque, летучая мышь ("flying mouse") in Russian, nahkhiir ("leather mouse") in Estonian, vlermuis (winged mouse) in Afrikaans
|Black Flying-fox photo by James Niland|
The flying fox is the largest type of bat. Its wingspan is around six feet wide and its body is around one foot long. Flying foxes live in high trees in the tropical regions of Africa, Australia and Asia. Other types of bats may be found in trees, caves, abandoned buildings or caves.
How long do bats live?
Bats generally live between 10 to 20 years.
Can bats walk?
A bat's legs are usually very weak and many bats do not walk at all. Rather, they use their legs to hang from their roost. Bats have five toes on their feet, each of which has a curved claw that bats use to support themselves while hanging upside down.
Are bats blind?
The phrase "blind as a bat" is not exactly true. Bats have very well developed eyes, but use echolocation to navigate and to find prey at night. Echolocation is when the bats send out high-pitched sounds and listen to the way that the sound bounces back to them, telling them how close they are to other objects.
Bats are more than the scary creatures of the night.
Our furry, flighted friends have quite a lot of positive effects on our world. From the billions of dollars they save us in pesticides, to natural pollination and seed spreading. Learn why we need bats at: http://batconservation.org