Everything You Want to Know About Bats (and the Vampire Bat, Too!) (2024)

It’s a bird! It’s a plane!

No. It’s Bat-Mammal, flying across the night skies outside of San Antonio, Texas.

Our bat hero and 20,000,000 other Mexican free-tailed bats are returning from a night of eating 250 tons of insects. They roost hanging upside down in this largest bat colony in the world.

Bats Under Bridges

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Down the road in Austin, Texas, another 1.5 million bats are coming off the night shift to roost under the Congress Avenue Bridge in downtown Austin, Texas.

They flew out at sunset, amid the cheers of hundreds of Austinites and tourists who come regularly to see this miraculous cloud of bats exiting from under the crevices of the bridge. These same bats used to be a major nuisance for the city and extermination was the proposed answer.

Bat Conservation International

A conservation group called Bat Conservation International has turned the bat situation into a time of celebration. Conserving the world’s bats and their ecosystems to ensure a healthy planet is their mission. Austin is now proud of their Mexican free-tailed colony being the largest urban bat colony in North America.

Other Bats Need Love, Too!

Did You Know?

  • Megabats are large fruit-eating bats
  • Microbats are smaller and eat insects
  • 70% of all bats eat insects
  • There are 1,000 species of bats
  • Bats live on every continent except Antarctica
  • Bats are not blind
  • The bat is the second most populous mammal, after rats

What Are Bats Good For?

It happens that bats are good for a lot of reasons:

  1. Bats control the insect population. A colony of brown bats can eat 18,000,000 root worms each summer. This save crops for people to eat.
  2. Bats pollinate plants.The giant Saguaro cactus in the Southwest U.S. are pollinated by bats. Large, flying fox and fruit bats spread the seeds of the fruits they eat scatter up to 95% of the seeds needed for new trees and bushes in tropical rainforests.
  3. Bat poop, called guano, produces a good bacteria that is used in commercial products.

What Do We Know About Bats?

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Bats come in all sizes. The tiny baby Bumblebee Bat is only the size of a jellybean!

The huge Bismarck Flying Fox Bat has a wingspan of over five feet.

Bats live in forests, deserts, jungles, and cities.

Bats smell, hear, taste, feel and see quite well.

Bats are warm-blooded mammals and the female nurses her baby pups.

Bats live 20 years.

Bats have fur.

Bats have HUGE ears and flaps and folds on their nose called ‘nose leaves’.

A Mammal That Flies?

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Bats are the only true-flying mammal that can fly continuously. So-called ‘flying squirrels’ can only glide for a short distance. The bat wing is a miracle of design. It has two thin layers of skin stretched over the bat’s arms and fingers, like a ‘web.’ There are four long fingers and a thumb.

When bats fly, they move their wings in a way that propels or pulls them forward through the air. They also use their wing fingers to wrap around insects to hold them while they eat.

What is Echolocation?

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A remarkable sense that allows bats to see in the dark. They make noises and wait for the sound waves to bounce back off objects like an echo. It the sound doesn’t bounce back it is safe to push on and fly.

This sense tells them how far away things are. The bat can use this sense through squeaky mouth sounds that are ultrasound, so high- pitched that humans can’t hear it. The ‘nose-leaves’ also aid in this function.

Here is the Vampire Bat!

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You’ve got your insect-eating bats. You’ve got your fruit-eating bats. And there is a fish-eating bat that grabs fish out of water with its claws. AND there are your blood-eating bats.

There are three kinds of meat-eating bats that drink the blood of other animals. They rarely bite a person. The vampire bat settles on an animal, like a cow. The bat then makes a shallow wound with his razor-sharp teeth and licks the blood. Vampire bats drink about an ounce of blood each night.

Bat Festival in Austin, Texas

If you happen to be in Austin in the summer, join the celebration of the bat. Dress up like a bat, sample great food, and great music in a great city that loves its bats.

Go ‘batty,’ Smarty Pants Kids. Have a good, safe, and fun October season. We wouldn’t want to have a ‘hug a bat’ day, but now you can appreciate the bat for all the insects he eats that don’t get a chance to bite us!

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Want your own bat? Click, print, and color this pdf – Bat Coloring Page.

As a bat enthusiast and expert, I can confidently say that I have a deep understanding of these fascinating creatures. Bats are not only known for their unique ability to fly, but they also play a crucial role in our ecosystems and have some remarkable features that set them apart from other mammals.

First and foremost, let's talk about the Mexican free-tailed bats, including our beloved Bat-Mammal. These bats, along with approximately 20,000,000 others, return from their nightly hunting trips in San Antonio, Texas, after devouring a whopping 250 tons of insects. They roost upside down in what is known as the largest bat colony in the world.

Moving down the road to Austin, Texas, we find another impressive bat colony. Under the Congress Avenue Bridge in downtown Austin, around 1.5 million bats roost after a night of hunting. This spectacle has become a tourist attraction, with hundreds of Austinites and visitors gathering to witness the awe-inspiring sight of these bats emerging from the bridge's crevices at sunset.

Fortunately, these bats are no longer considered a nuisance thanks to the efforts of Bat Conservation International, a conservation group dedicated to preserving bats and their ecosystems. Their mission is to ensure a healthy planet by conserving bats worldwide. Austin takes pride in having the largest urban bat colony in North America.

Now, let's delve into some interesting facts about bats. Did you know that there are two main types of bats? Megabats, also known as fruit bats, are larger and feed on fruits, while microbats are smaller and primarily eat insects. In fact, 70% of all bats survive on an insect-based diet. With over 1,000 species, bats can be found on every continent except Antarctica, making them truly widespread mammals. Contrary to popular belief, bats are not blind and possess excellent senses of smell, hearing, taste, touch, and vision.

Bats are incredibly beneficial to humans and our environment. They help control the insect population, with a colony of brown bats capable of devouring 18,000,000 root worms in a single summer, preserving crops for human consumption. Additionally, bats play a vital role in pollination. For example, giant Saguaro cacti in the Southwest United States rely on bats for pollination. Fruit bats and flying foxes aid in the dispersal of seeds, contributing to the growth of new trees and bushes in tropical rainforests. Furthermore, bat guano, or bat poop, contains beneficial bacteria that are utilized in commercial products.

Let's not forget some intriguing facts about bats themselves. Bats come in various sizes, ranging from the tiny Bumblebee Bat, which is comparable to the size of a jellybean, to the massive Bismarck Flying Fox Bat, boasting a wingspan of over five feet. Bats inhabit diverse environments, including forests, deserts, jungles, and cities. They live for approximately 20 years and have fur, along with distinct features such as large ears and flaps and folds on their nose, known as 'nose leaves.'

What sets bats apart from other mammals is their ability to fly continuously. While animals like flying squirrels can only glide for short distances, bats have evolved a unique wing structure that enables them to fly effortlessly. Their wings consist of two thin layers of skin stretched over their arms and fingers, resembling a web. With four elongated fingers and a thumb, bats use their wings to propel themselves through the air and even catch and hold insects while eating.

One of the most remarkable features of bats is their echolocation ability. This extraordinary sense allows them to navigate and locate objects in the dark. Bats emit sounds and listen for the echoes that bounce back, enabling them to determine distance and avoid obstacles. They produce ultrasonic sounds, which are too high-pitched for human ears to detect. The 'nose leaves' on their faces assist in this process.

Lastly, let's address the intriguing subject of blood-eating bats. While most bats feed on insects or fruits, there are three species known as meat-eating bats that survive by consuming the blood of other animals. These bats rarely bite humans and typically target animals like cows. By making shallow wounds with their razor-sharp teeth, they can access the blood they need, consuming around an ounce each night.

If you find yourself in Austin, Texas during the summer, I highly recommend joining the Bat Festival, where you can fully immerse yourself in the celebration of these incredible creatures. Dressing up like a bat, enjoying great food and music, and experiencing the vibrant atmosphere of a city that truly loves its bats will undoubtedly be an unforgettable experience.

So, my fellow Smarty Pants Kids, while we may not have a "hug a bat" day, we can appreciate bats for the vital role they play in controlling the insect population and protecting us from bites. If you're interested in having your very own bat, you can click, print, and color a bat coloring page for a fun and educational activity.

Remember, bats are not only fascinating but also essential to the balance of our ecosystems. Let's continue to celebrate and protect these amazing creatures for the well-being of our planet.

Everything You Want to Know About Bats (and the Vampire Bat, Too!) (2024)


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