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Bats (Chiroptera)

Bat Species

Bats are one of the most prolific forms of mammals with over 900 species living in the world and making up over 20% of all mammals.

Bats are also the only mammal to have attained powered flight. Several mammals can glide, like the flying squirrel, but they cannot stay in the air flying under their own power like bats do.

In the United States there are 45 species of bats and seven of these species are in danger of extinction. These endangered species include:

Lesser long-nosed bat - a nectar-feeding and insect eating bat of the Southwestern U.S.

Hawaiian hoary bat - the only indigenous bat in Hawaii, it also eats insects.

Greater (Mexican) long-nosed bat - a nectar-feeding and insect eating bat that lives in the Big Bend area of southwestern Texas.

Virginia big-eared bat - an insect eating bat that lives in a few caves in Virginia, West Virginia, North Carolina and Kentucky.

Ozark big-eared bat - only found in some caves in Oklahoma, Missouri and Arkansas.

Indiana bat - an insect eating bat that lives in hollow trees during the summer, but in the winter stays in just nine caves in the U.S.

Gray bat - eats insects and lives in a few caves in Alabama, Kentucky, Missouri, Arkansas and Tennessee.

 

Bat Boxes

For bats like the Indiana Bat, which prefers to roost in trees during the warm summers and tree hollows for the cool winters, bat boxes are becoming more and more necessary. As hollow trees are cut down, bat boxes are needed for bats to survive. Mothers also need quiet places to birth and raise their pups. It is important to provide them with habitats during the birthing season from April to August. 

When placing a bat box, it's important to consider these guidelines:

  • It should be erected at least 10 feet off of the ground and oriented to the southeast.

  • Place it in an open area with at least 7 hours of direct sun.

  • Place it within 1/4 mile of water source.

  • It should have 10-30 yards of cover to and from the box (since bats are vulnerable to predators when entering and exiting)

  • Locate it in a habitat with good foraging possibilities - forests, clearings, and wetlands - where there is plenty of insect activity.

 

Bat Facts

  • Bats, like humans are mammals. Bats are the only mammals that can fly.

  • Female bats usually give birth to one pup per year.

  • Few bats drink blood. However there are some Vampire Bats that live in Central America, South America and Mexico that feed on the blood of warm-blooded animals like horses, cattle and birds. The Vampire bat makes a small cut in a sleeping animal's skin and laps up the blood from the wound. Vampire bats need about 2 teaspoons of blood a day to live.

  • Bats are nocturnal—active at night, resting during the day. Bats have excellent eyesight, and are never “Blind as a bat!” To find their way around in the dark, they use echolocation or a built in sonar.

  • Bats can weigh as little as two grams (less than 1/10 of an ounce) or as much as two pounds.

  • 200 bats feeding for 200 days will consume more than 4400 pounds of insects.