Night of the Bats by Lela and Bob Cargill
All About Bats
History of Bats
Fossils of bats go back some 50 million years. The fossil bones of those bats look pretty much like the bat bones of today. According to scientists, this means that bats have not only been around for a very, very long time, but they haven't changed much. They were flying around eating insects back when the dinosaurs walked the Earth.
Did you know that bats are the only mammal that can fly?
Flying squirrels, also mammals, use their wings like a kite. Bats have real wings and can perform incredible true flight aerial maneuvers.
Types of bats
Bats are in the order Chiroptera and there are about 1,200 species of bats in the world today. Bats range in size between the bumblebee bats that are as small as jelly beans and the Bismark Flying Fox Bat that has a wingspan of nearly six feet.
Bats look like rodents to most of us, but they are not related to rodents at all. Some studies reveal they may actually be related to primates. If this is true, then bats are also related to us humans in the global order of things. Perhaps this is why people think of legendary vampires turning into humans and vice versa! Generally, it is believed that all bats had a common shrew like ancestor.
There are so many successful bat species that they make up one fifth of the mammals on the planet.
Mexican Free-Tailed Bat
What do bats eat?
One little brown bat can eat up to 1,000 insects the size of a mosquito - per hour! Pregnant lady bats eat their full weight of insects every night. Bats are voracious little insect killers and they are vital for controlling the millions and trillions of insects that can harm humans.
Fruit bats eat fruit. These bats pollinate fruit trees sort of like bees do. They spread seeds to regenerate fruit trees. They help the rain forests survive.
A few species of bats eat small animals like frogs, mice and fish.
Vampire bats eat blood. There are only 3 species of these types of bats in Latin America, but because they do like blood, they have been hunted almost to extinction. The vampire bats are small and do not really have much of a defense system. Strangely enough, their powerful enzyme anticoagulants are used today to treat stroke patients.
A Vampire Bat
Bats and Rabies
You are far more likely to get rabies virus from a dog, cat or other wild animal than you are likely to get rabies from a bat.
Bats can become infected with the rabies virus and this is why you should never handle a sick bat or any other sick wild animal.
Austin, Texas is know as Bat City and is home to thousands of bats. These bats attract thousands of tourists. To date, not one of them has ever contracted rabies from a bat.
How to find the Ann W. Richards Congress Ave Bridge, Austin, Tx 78704 - Enter your current location...
Flying Mexican Free Tailed Bat
Do Bats Get in Your Hair?
The short answer is, no, they do not get in your hair. I may happen by accident that they get caught in your hair, but that would be extremely rare.
Bats will occasionally fly into your home through an open door or window. Allow the bat to settle down and don't panic. Find a small empty box and fit it over the bat, then slide a cardboard piece between the box and the wall. Let the bat go outdoors while holding it up towards the sky or near a tree trunk. They don't usually take off from the ground.
If the bat appears to be sick, call animal control and keep the bat in the box. Never handle bats with your bare hand. You should use gloves to handle a bat. They rarely bite or cause trouble, but people panic around bats which will make them very agitated.
Where do Bats Live?
The largest known colony of bats in the world is in Texas. During the summer, Mexican Free Tailed Bats live in Bracken Cave near San Antonio. There is an estimated 20 Million bats living in this system!
Bats usually live in caves, but they are known to roost under bridges and in trees. Bats are found all over the world, although fewer numbers exist in very cold climates. Bats especially love warm moist areas where a lot of fruit trees or tons of insects live.
Vampire bats live near cattle herds because cattle and larger mammals are their main source of food. Some people that think they are vampires live in cities.
Bat houses are really easy to build. They are popular projects in the south because bats eat mosquitoes and we don't like mosquitoes. They carry the West Nile virus which is far more dangerous than rabies.
How to: Build a Bat House!
What kind of bat do you like?