Bats are one of the most diverse groups of mammals. They belong to the order Chiroptera (which includes moles, shrews, ground squirrels, armadillos and many others). Their wingspan ranges from 3 to 5 feet. Most bats have two pairs of wings with a few species having three or four sets of wing membranes. All bats fly at night and spend their lives underground during the day. Some species live in trees while others prefer caves and hollow logs. There are over 1,000 known species of bats.
The majority of bats feed on insects such as flies, mosquitoes and ants. Many species use echolocation to detect food sources in the dark.
Others eat fruit and nectar from flowers. However, some bats feed exclusively on pollen grains found in certain plants; these include honeybees and bumble bees (Apis mellifera). These types of bats are sometimes referred to as “bee-eaters.”
Some bats produce sounds similar to those made by other animals when they are flying through the air. These noises are called echolocation clicks.
Other bats emit ultrasonic calls that allow them to locate prey in the dark. A few species of bats can even make sounds using only their ears!
A bat’s wings are not strong enough to support its weight. Instead the bat is able to launch itself into the air using its legs.
This is called a vertical takeoff. The wings then move up and down while the animal is in the air, allowing the bat to fly. During this movement, the wings are kept at a horizontal position from the ground.
Bats can fly up, down, left and right. They can also hover in one position in mid-air.
Sources & references used in this article:
Bat activity and pollination of Bauhinia pauletia: plant‐pollinator coevolution by ER Heithaus, PA Opler, HG Baker – Ecology, 1974 – Wiley Online Library
The evolution of bat pollination: a phylogenetic perspective by TH Fleming, C Geiselman, WJ Kress – Annals of botany, 2009 – academic.oup.com
Acoustic guide in bat-pollinated flower by D von Helversen, O von Helversen – Nature, 1999 – nature.com
The pollination biology of two paniculate agaves (Agavaceae) from northwestern Mexico: contrasting roles of bats as pollinators by F Molina‐Freaner, LE Eguiarte – American Journal of Botany, 2003 – Wiley Online Library
The pollination of Parkia by bats and its attendant evolutionary problems by HG Baker, BJ Harris – Evolution, 1957 – JSTOR
Floral scent in bat-pollinated plants: a case of convergent evolution by JT Knudsen, L Tollsten – Botanical Journal of the Linnean …, 1995 – academic.oup.com