What kind is a bat

bat

Characteristics

What do bats look like?

Bats are mammals and, together with the closely related fruit bats, make up the group of bats. Not only are they the only mammals, but, along with birds, the only vertebrates that can actively fly. Bats can vary in size. The largest is the Australian ghost bat, which is 14 centimeters long, has 60 centimeters wingspan and weighs around 200 grams. The smallest is the tiny bumblebee bat, which is only 3 centimeters and weighs just two grams. Often the females are slightly larger than the males, otherwise the two sexes look the same.

Bats have dense fur, which is usually brown, gray or almost black in color. Usually the stomach is lighter than the back. Bats are unmistakable by their flight membrane, also known as the flight membrane, which stretches from the wrists to the ankles. The skins are also stretched between the wrists and shoulders, between the fingers and between the legs.

The front legs are greatly elongated, the four fingers of the front legs are also elongated and help to tighten the flight membrane. The thumb, on the other hand, is short and has a claw. The five toes of the hind legs also have claws. With these, the animals can hang themselves on branches or rocks when they are resting or sleeping.

The different bat species differ not only in their size, but can also be recognized by their face. Some have specially shaped noses or special structures that amplify the ultrasonic sounds that the animals emit. The very large ears with which the animals pick up sound waves are also typical.

Bats can mainly see black and white with their small eyes, but some can also perceive UV light. Some sensory hairs are arranged around the mouth.

Where do bats live?

Bats can be found on almost every continent on earth, with the exception of Antarctica. They live from the tropics to polar regions. Some of them, for example, the mouse-eared genus, is one of the most widespread genus of mammals.

The different bat species colonize very different habitats: We find them in forests, but also in parks and gardens.

Which bat species are there?

Around 900 different bat species can be found around the world. They are divided into seven superfamilies. These include, for example, horseshoe-like, smooth-nosed or bulldog bats. Around 40 bat species live in Europe, and around 30 in Central Europe. Some of the most well-known species here include the noctule bat, the very rare greater horseshoe bat, the great mouse-eared bat and the pipistrelle.

How old do bats get?

Bats can get surprisingly old and live for 20 to 30 years.

behavior

How do bats live?

Bats are nocturnal and use echolocation to orient themselves in the dark. They emit ultrasonic waves that are reflected from objects and prey such as insects. The bats perceive this echo and can thus determine exactly where an object is, how far away it is and how it is shaped. You can even perceive how fast a prey is moving, for example, and in which direction it is flying.

In addition to echolocation, bats also use their magnetic sense: They can perceive the lines of the earth's magnetic field and use them to orient themselves on long flights, similar to migratory birds.

Some bat species not only fly, but can also move surprisingly skillfully on the ground. A few can even swim and take off into the air from the water. Many bat species are skilled hunters who catch their prey, such as insects, in flight.

Bats spend the day resting and sleeping in their hiding places. These can be holes in trees or rocks, attics or ruins. There they usually snuggle up close to each other.

Here in Europe they are mainly active in the warm season and when autumn comes they look for sheltered winter quarters, for example a cave, in which they hibernate with many other members of their own species.

Friends and enemies of the bat

Bats mainly fall victim to predators such as cats and martens, as well as birds of prey and owls. But bats are most threatened by humans because humans destroy their habitats.

How do bats reproduce?

Most bat species only give birth once a year. As is usual with mammals, these are born alive. Usually a female has only one cub.

In Europe, mating usually takes place in the winter quarters. However, the development of the young is delayed for a long time and they are only born much later in the warm months. Usually the females form groups in caves and give birth to their young there. The young are suckled by the mothers. At the end of August the little bats become independent.

How do bats communicate?

Bats make numerous calls to each other. But since these calls are in the ultrasound range, we cannot hear them.

maintenance

What do bats eat?

The different bat species eat very differently: some eat mainly insects, others also small vertebrates such as mice or small birds as well as frogs and fish. Other species, which mostly live in the tropics, feed mainly on fruits or nectar. Only three species feed on the blood of other animals by scratching them with their teeth and sucking their blood.