Bats – dangerous vampire-like creatures or fascinating and useful mammals?
Bats are animals that don’t have a good reputation. They are surrounded by a whole cloud of myths, and the fact that they are so often on the pages of dark fairy tales does not make them favorable.
The appearance of these animals was inspired by the invention of such a cult pop culture figure as a vampire. Apart from the Dracula, they also inspired Batman, who is already useful for people. Here are awesome facts about bats:
1. Bats, like many mammals, sleep in the winter time.
2. Falling into winter sleep (hibernation) is preceded by very intensive feeding.
3. The fat that bats store to survive the winter is 20-30% of their body weight.
4. During hibernation, bats’ body temperature is significantly lowered – barely two degrees or more than the temperature around them.
5. During winter sleep, the bat’s breathing rate and heart beat slow down.
6. Bats are completely defenceless in their winter sleep.
7. What happens in places where these mammals sleep is quite dramatic – predators such as foxes eat sleeping bats that cannot defend themselves.
8. Bats are one of the few animals that can hang their heads down for a long time.
9. Surprisingly, although they can often be found in quite scary, repulsive environments, they are safer in new or renovated places.
10. Historic churches often serve as bat colonies.
11. You don’t need to be afraid. They do not attack people.
12. Bats eat insects, consuming significant amounts of them – one bat can eat up to 3000 mosquitoes at night.
13. In ancient China, the bat was a symbol of happiness.
14. The bats’ winter sleep is not a particularly deep dream – they can wake up from their winter sleep several times during the winter.
15. Bats are one of the most poorly known mammals – we still know little about them.
16. Although knowledge about many species of animals is popularized (e.g. by writing popular science books), this is not the case with bats. There are not many well-written publications about these animals on the market.
17. They are the only mammals that have the ability to fly actively.
18. Bats can be found on all continents except Antarctica.
19. Bats living in tropical areas like to eat not so much insects as fruits. They also drink nectar.
20. Bats often consume their food in flight.
21. Scientists still know little about the breeding season of bats.
22. Bats are highly adaptable to the environment – they successfully live side by side with humans, even if they live in cities.
23. Bats can potentially spread epidemics very well. They are sensitive to viruses of both humans and other animals.
24. As animals that can easily change the environment, they can also transmit viruses between ecosystems, which is particularly dangerous.
25. In China, bats have been the source of the SARS epidemic.
26. Hundreds of bats can be found in large sites, such as the cellars of castles, in winter.
27. Not all bats tolerate cold just as well – there are bats that are both less and more heat friendly.
28. One of the most common bats’ abilities – echolocation.
29. The sounds that bats use to locate objects in space are not heard by us.
30. Hearing can replace bats’ vision.
31. Bats are difficult to catch due to their excellent echolocation skills and are very sensitive to traps.
32. The bat scientist is called a chiropterologist.
33. Special detectors can be used to detect sounds from bats that are normally not heard by humans.
34. Bats use sound to attract their partners.
35. Bats, although they live so close to us, are very often extremely difficult to detect.
36. Bats like to hide in both large and small spaces – they can be found both in cellars and in narrow cracks under the bark of trees.
37. Bats can reach the size of domestic animals, e.g. cats.
38. Bats dont build anything in their hiding places.
39. The breeding season for bats is the spring-summer season.
40. Bats don’t really have much in common with birds – they don’t have feathers (they have fur typical for mammals, however), and they don’t make eggs.
41. Bats can bite, but they will only bite if they are in danger.
42. Bats do not have many enemies in the natural environment (martens, owls, cats and some birds).
43. Although bats ‘see’ when hearing (echolocation), they are not blind (as is generally accepted). They have a well-developed sense of sight.
44. The proportions of the bat’s eyes to the rest of the head are very high.
45. Bats belong to one of the five types of animals that are essential for human survival. This combination includes bees, plankton, primates and butterflies.
46. Bats are sometimes referred to as “flying mice”.
47. Bats are irreplaceable “weapons” against mosquitoes.
48. Most bat species live in the tropics.
49. Bats, unlike birds, can strike wings alternately and change the shape of their wings.
50. These animals also outperform the birds with their manoeuvrability in flight.
51. The smallest bat lives in Thailand and weighs up to 2 grams.
52. Bats can live very long, even up to the age of 30.
53. The largest bat colony was discovered in Australia (30,000,000 individuals).
54. The ability of bats to hang their heads down is due to the specific structure of their limbs – this is due to special block connections between bones, claws and ligaments. Thanks to such a structure, sagging does not cause muscle effort and the bat does not pose a risk to its health.