Did you know that there are over 1000 species of bats, comprising 25% of all mammals?
April 17th is Bat Appreciation Day and we’d like to take this opportunity to learn about this incredible and diverse mammal!
Why Bats Are Important
Bats play an important role in their ecosystems. Some plants depend wholly on bats to pollinate their flowers or spread their seeds. So, without bats the world would have less precious vegetation!
Bugs are one of bats' favorite meals, so another way bats help our environment is to eat unwanted pests and insects!
Bats and Plants
Over 500 species of plants really solely on bat for survival including some of our favorite fruits and vegetables like mango, banana, durian, guava, agave, and even cocoa! Next time you eat a piece of chocolate thank a local bat for the delicious treat!
Some species of bats, like the Tube-Lipped Nectar Bat of Ecuador and the Banana Bat of Mexico, have extraordinarily long tongues to help them reach the bottom of bell shaped plants that are unreachable to other birds and insects.
Not only do plants rely on bats, but the bats rely on the plants for survival as a source of nutrients and food!
Bats and Insects
Some people believe that bats are pests, but did you know that they are actually pest controllers? A bat's favorite midnight snacks include some of the insects that bother us the most like mosquitoes. moths, flies, and even scorpions!
Bats eat enough insects in some regions that it reduces the need for pesticides, which is good for people and the environment! Bats can eat up to 1,200 mosquitoes an hour and often consume their body weight in insects every night.
Interesting Bat Facts
Bats are unique and fascinating animals! Here are some facts about bats you may not know:
Bats are the only mammals able to fly. Bats are exceptional flyers. Their wings are thin which gives them excellent airfoil. The propulsion power bats have is extraordinary; they can fly very fast. In fact, Brazilian Free-Tailed Bats can fly up to 99 miles per hour!
Bats use echolocation to get around in the dark. Bats don't see very well and are most active at night, so they have to rely on navigational methods other than sight. Bats send out beeps and listen for variations in the echoes that bounce back at them to determine the right way to go.
Bats live long lives. Bats can live for over 20 years!
Some bats really do drink blood. There are three species of Vampire Bats whose diet consists only of blood. They have small and extremely sharp teeth which are capable of piercing an animal’s skin without them even noticing.
Bats live both in families and on their own. Some bats live by themselves while others live in caves with thousands of other bats.
Mother bats can spot their babies from thousands of bats. Bat mothers can find their babies among thousands or even millions of other bats by their unique voices and scents. Most bats only have one pup, making them more vulnerable to extinction.
Over 50% of bat species are endangered. More than half of the bat species in the United States are in severe decline or listed as endangered. In addition to loss of habitat, one of the most dire threat comes from white nose syndrome, a disease that has decimated bats in the U.S. and Canada.
Fun Bat Activity!
Mother Mexican free-tailed bats leave their babies (pups) in a cave with three million others at night while the mothers hunt. When they return to the cave at dawn, they're faced with the task of identifying their own baby in the pitch black, cold, and crowded nursery. How does mom find her pup? By their unique combination of smell and sound!
This activity helps students understand how much the senses we use are the ones necessary for survival in our particular environments. This is a companion activity for If My Mom Were A Platypus: Mammal Babies and their Mothers. This title is available at a discounted price for Title 1 schools on the First Book Marketplace. The book explores how 14 different mammal babies navigate the path from helpless infants to self-sufficient adults, and comes with a free downloadable Teacher’s Guide filled with activities just like this one.