Last Reviewed and Updated on June 10, 2022
Did you know there are 3 species of bats that drink blood? Or that the majority of bats can’t run? These nocturnal creatures come in many different shapes and sizes and when it comes to interesting facts about bats, well there are many!
Read through some of the coolest facts about bats and you will know why these mammals are one of the most interesting animals out there.
1. There are over 1400 known species of bats
And here is another interesting fact behind that number, to date scientists have identified more than 6400 different species of mammals, which makes bats take up roughly 20% of all known mammal species. Pretty cool, right? The only group that beats them are the rodents.
2. They can be found almost everywhere in the world
You can find them across the globe! The only places you won’t find them are the polar regions, some deserts, and some isolated islands. All other places are fair game for this animal.
3. Bats come in many sizes
With so many species of bats, it’s no wonder they come in many different sizes (and shapes). The smallest bat is the Kitti’s Hog Nosed also known as the bumblebee bat, which is the size of a, well a bumblebee.
The largest species of bat is the Golden-crowned Flying Fox.
3. They are nocturnal animals but can go out in daylight too
Bats are nocturnal animals, which means they are most active at night. Their activity during the day would expose them to more dangers as there are more predators present. You may see a bat during the daylight, as they will venture out if circumstances demand it; if they are thirsty, need food or their nest is disturbed.
There are almost always exceptions to rules, the Blyth’s horseshoe bat was observed hunting during the daylight on one island in Malaysia.
4. Bats are the only mammal that can fly
This is the most important of all facts about bats. There are no other mammals capable of flying in the whole world. They are true flyers. The flying squirrel, also a mammal, is capable of gliding but can’t really fly. Unlike birds, who have feathers, bats have flight membranes.
5. Most bats can’t run
Some even struggle with walking… As they specialized in flying the cost for that was they lost their ability to run on the ground.
Vampire bats can run though (independent evolution of running in vampire bats).
6. Bats hang upside down when they sleep
They are also the only flying animal with this ability (insects excluded). They are able to do this because of their unique anatomy – their talons close up when they relax their muscles (and open when they contract the muscle). So when they are relaxed, their talons are clenched. All they have to do is fly into position, use their muscles to open their claws and relax the muscles to fix themselves into the position. They use no energy to hang upside down.
Sleeping upside down also gives them protection from predators, as the places they choose are usually unreachable to other animals.
7. They can’t fly off of the ground
Their wings can’t lift them on their own and since they can’t run they can’t make a running start to help them get airborne. They need to climb to higher ground to leap themselves into the air.
This is another reason why sleeping upside down is handy for them as they can fly off as soon as they wake up.
8. They either hibernate or migrate (or both)
Flying around uses a lot of energy so bats need to eat a whole bunch of food. The warm part of the year brings an abundance of food, however colder months take away the bat’s food supply and they are forced to either hibernate and conserve energy, migrate to warmer climates or do a mix of both. Some bat species will only hibernate, some only migrate and some like to mix things up.
9. Some bats eat insects, others eat fruit, nectar, and pollen. Small fish, frogs, and lizards… And some drink blood.
Most bat species eat insects and they do that at night. They find insects using echolocation and trap them with their wings.
Pollen-loving bats are important pollinators, with some types of plants being solely dependent on bats (and some birds) pollinating them. Banana trees are one of those plants.
Vampire bats, as the name suggests, consume blood. There are currently only 3 species known that drink blood. Another interesting bat fact about these 3 species is that they don’t drink water, they get all their fluids from drinking blood.
10. Bats don’t poop upside down
Even if they have to go during hibernation, they will fly around and do the numbers 2 and 1 if needed before returning to their slumber. They need to be upright in order to poo, doing the number 2 while they are upside down would be a bad and a messy idea.
11. Bat poop is called guano
It’s not exclusive to bats as seabird poop is also called guano. Guano is a great fertilizer and was even used for the production of gunpowder.
12. Some bats live solo, and some in colonies with more than a million bats
Depending on their species bats live solo or in colonies of different sizes.
Bracken Cave is the home of the world’s largest known bat colony with over 15 million Mexican free-tailed bats.
13. Baby bats are called pups!
Unimaginatively, female bats are called females and male bats are called males. A group of bats is called a colony.
14. Most bat species have only one offspring per year
Last from our list of facts about bats is about the number of bat babies. If you compare bats to other mammals of similar size you will notice a huge difference. With other species of mammals, the smaller the species the more offspring is usually the case, but bats don’t go by that rule.