Going Batty   Leave a comment

Remember the Flying Squirrel? The mammal that, you would think from the name, would fly but he actually glides? Well, there is really only one mammal that truly flies – and that is our friend the Bat!

There are hundreds of different species of bats, but all of them are mammals – they give birth to live babies that drink milk; they are warm-blooded; and they have hair on their bodies. Even though they can fly, no bats (nor any other mammal) lay eggs like a bird, nor has scales like a reptile, nor is bald like a frog or other amphibian. But even though all bats are mammals, there are types of bats that live and behave in just about any way you can imagine: Mini-bats the size of a mouse, and big bats with a wingspan over five feet. Bats that live in the forest or the jungle or inside dry caves or even in city buildings. Small-group-living bats and others that live in colonies of thousands. Bats that eat fruit and others that eat fish and bats that eat blood (yes, it’s true. But not as many blood-eating bats as the movies would make you believe. And NO bats that can change itself into a hot guy or gal, either). Other than being a flying mammal – which is unique and special in itself – about the only behaviors all bats share is being active at night and sleeping during the day; and their important work in pollinating plants and eating enough insects (thousands of insects every night!) to keep the insect population from growing out of control. Many bats – not all all types – use loud squeaks and sounds – called echolocation – to communicate and help them understand their environment.

There’s a LOT to learn about bats, and some scientists, researchers and people who like bats have dedicated their entire lives to learning more about our furry, flying friends. Some old stories about bats accuse them of many things from attacking people to causing bad luck, but none of these tales are true and over hundreds of years the stories have caused bats to get a bad rep. In fact, many bats are getting very sick now and no one knows why, but it would be a disaster if there weren’t enough bats to eat insects or help plants grow. Between the real blood-sucking mosquito, or the helpful but misunderstood bat, we’ll choose the bat every time.

Gray Bat USFWS

Fighting crime by eating bugs. It's a bat, man.

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