Bats

(Chiroptera)

Factoid:

Bats are the only mammals capable of true flight.

Status:

Thirteen species of bat are listed as endangered.

Population:

While some bat populations number in the millions, others are dangerously low or in decline.

Survival:

Most bats live longer than other mammals of their size. The longest known life span of a bat in the wild is 30 years for a little brown bat.

Threats:

The greatest threat to bats is people. Habitat destruction and fear are a lethal combination for bats. In some areas, people have even been known to set fires in caves, destroying thousands of roosting bats.

Almost 1,000 bat species can be found worldwide. In fact, bats make up a quarter of all mammal species. Bats are divided into two suborders: Megachiroptera, meaning large bat, and Microchiroptera, meaning small bat. The largest bats have a six-foot wing span. The bodies of the smallest bats are no more than an inch long.

Some bats have evolved a highly sophisticated sense of hearing. They emit sounds that bounce off of objects in their path, sending echoes back to the bats. From these echoes, the bats can determine the size of objects, how far away they are, how fast they are traveling, and even their texture—all in a split second.

Bats find shelter in caves, crevices, tree cavities, and buildings and can be found almost anywhere in the world except the polar regions and extreme deserts. While 70 percent of all bats consume insects, there are also fruit-eating bats; nectar-eating bats; carnivorous bats that prey on small mammals, birds, lizards, and frogs; fish-eating bats; and the blood-eating vampire bats of South America.

National Parks:

Bats can be found in Carlsbad Caverns National Park, AZ; Pinnacles National Monument, CA; Colorado National Monument, CO; Jewel Cave National Monument, SD; Wind Cave National Park, SD; National Park of American Samoa, AS; and Virgin Islands National Park, VI

 

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