What Do Bats Eat?
Though many people shudder at the thought of the creepy looking winged creatures, they will still be curious about them; wondering, for example, what do bats eat? Where do they live? Do they suck the blood of humans?
Bats – What They Are
There are actually about 1,000 different varieties of bats, although the word brings to mind just one picture: a black, skeletal looking rodent with wings and sharp incisors. Two classifications divide the large number of bat types: fruit eating, or megabats and the smaller insectivores called microbats. While they are all bats, the two classifications are actually very different from one another.
The world’s smallest bat is a mere inch long and is appropriately called the “bumblebee” bat. They also hold the honor of being the world’s smallest mammal. Originating in Thailand, these tiny bats bear the same semblance of other bats but in miniature. The largest known bat has an incredible wing span of around 6 feet, called the Pteropus vampyrus but more commonly known as the Large Flying Fox.
Bats are mammals. Instead of having front limbs, they instead sport webbed wings that enable them to achieve sustained flight. This feature makes them unique among all other mammals.
There are many misconceptions about the bat, in great part due to their depiction in horror movies and books. Contrary to the information portrayed in these fiction based tales, bats do not suck the blood of humans, do not habitually become tangled in human hair or dive toward humans and are not the largest carriers of rabies.
Where Do Bats Live?
Another amazing fact about these creatures is that they live all around the world in just about every type of habitat. The exceptions are in areas that experience the harshest of weather conditions, whether intensely hot or extremely cold. The favorite habitats where the majority of bats are found are tropical areas or rain forests.
Though people commonly believe that all bats live in caves, they actually have several favored places where they enjoy “hanging” out. Hollow trees, crevices in rocks, mines, holes in tree branches and even leafy areas can provide adequate living spaces for these mammals. Since they are highly social creatures, they are generally found in medium to large sized groups.
What Do Bats Eat?
The diet of the bat will largely depend on what type of bat that it is and also where it lives. All will use their highly developed sense of smell to locate their food source. What many people fail to realize (largely due to their unsupported fear of the bat) is that these creatures are of great benefit to the environment as well as to home owners and farmers.
- The largest majority of bats are fruit eaters which feed upon the overripe offerings of fruit trees, whether growing wild or domestic. This is a boon to the environment as the bats deposit seeds in their waste from the fruit they have ingested, making them natural pollinators of the fruit.
- The second largest classification use insects as their primary food source. For this reason, homeowners should embrace the presence of bats near their homes as they will naturally note a lack of pesky insects in the environments. Many different types of insects will be within the radar of bats, both flying and creeping insects. Mosquitoes are a favored prey of the bat, which should be the delight of homeowners.
- Some bats also enjoy drinking nectar from indigenous flowers in their habitats, such as the Southern Blossom bat found in Australia. Long ribbon-like tongues enable the bats to effectively lap the sweet fluid from the heart of the blossoms. These same bats can be lauded for their pollination of the plants during feeding. Mangoes and bananas are among those fruits that owe their widespread cultivation to bats.
- Some varieties of bats will feed upon small creatures such as frogs, rodents and even fish.
- Only one species of bat, the vampire bat, feeds upon the fresh blood of animals such as horses, cattle, pigs and burros. Their prey are not killed by the feedings, but can be scarred from the sharp yet painless bite of the bat. An anti coagulant is secreted by the bat to keep the blood flowing freely as several bats feed to the fullest. Each bat will only consume about 1 or 2 tablespoons of blood at each feeding.
What Kinds Of Bat Live In The United States?
Several different types of bats can live in a region. In the United States, there are somewhere around 45 species of bats, with six of these being on the endangered list.
People must let go of their unsupported fears and misconceptions of this creature. After all, bats are very beneficial creatures to have living nearby given the large number of insects they eat and the fact that they are useful in propagating fruit trees and bushes. They are truly one of nature’s biggest helpers.