Bats are not blind but have small eyes with keen vision allowing them to see and hunt in complete darkness. Their acuity allows them to navigate even when it's pitch black.
Bats are the only flying mammals. Contrary to what most people think, they have more advantages than the problems they bring. Bats are predators of night-flying insects, including mosquitoes.
This helps preserve your home’s natural balance and maintain a healthy ecosystem.
Insect-eating bats help in pest control services that save the U.S. agricultural industry around $3 billion annually. For instance, a nursing female little brown bat can feed her body weight on insects every night.
So, let’s look at a bat’s lifespan, diet, sleep, and nesting and answer the popular question, “Are bats blind?”
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7 Amazing Bat Facts
Let’s learn more about these unsung heroes:
1. There are over 1,400 bat species worldwide, with forty species in America alone.
As previously mentioned, bats are the only flying mammals in the world. Although small, they have a large footprint, making a quarter of all mammals.
2. Bats can live for over 30 years and fly at a speed of over 60 miles per hour.
Bats can live up to or over thirty years in the wild. Moreover, the Mexican free-tailed bat can reach speeds of 100 mph, making it the fastest mammal in the world.
3. Bats can look for food in complete darkness.
It’s important to note that not all bats are nocturnal. Bats echolocate by emitting ultrasonic sound waves and listening to the echoes to pinpoint the night-flying insects accurately.
These sound waves are inaudible high-pitched sounds that are ten to twenty beeps per second and are inaudible to the human ear.
4. Bats can consume around 1,200 mosquitoes hourly.
Bats are essential as they help control the insect population, including mosquitoes. Bats are known to consume their body weight in insects per night, controlling their population.
5. Bat droppings, known as guano, are one of the richest fertilizers.
Bat droppings were once a huge business. In fact, it was Texas’s biggest mineral export before oil.
Besides, guano can also be used to make gun powder as they are high in saltpeter, which is rich in potassium nitrate, and can also be used to preserve fossils.
6. Baby bats are known as pups.
A female bat can have only a single pup annually. The bond between mothers is so strong that mothers can locate their pups among millions of other pups using their unique scents and voices.
Having a single pup a year makes bats an endangered species. That is why they’re protected mammals in most parts of the world.
7. Bats come in various colors: brown, black, tan, red, and gray
Generally, they have large ears similar to a rodent, short snouts, and fur-covered bodies. There are small bats around three inches in size and have a wing span of eight inches. Other large bats could reach seven inches and have a two-foot wingspan.
The largest species in the world is the flying fox. It can reach a wingspan of 1.5 meters and a head-body length of around sixteen inches. The flying fox can weigh up to 2.5 pounds.
Are bats blind?
You may be wondering, are bats blind? Just because most bats are nocturnal and bats echolocate, where they use sonar sound waves to navigate and find food, doesn’t necessarily mean that bats are blind.
Bats are not blind but have small eyes with sensitive vision allowing them to see and hunt in complete darkness. Their acuity gives them the ability to navigate even when it’s pitch black.
The big bat species can actually see better than humans. As nocturnal mammals, bats’ eyes contain a lot of photoreceptor cells known as rods that amplify their poor vision during the night.
Where do bats live?
Bats can be found in almost parts of the world and can commonly be found in trees and caves, in mines, under bridges, and other structures. There are over 1,400 bat species worldwide, making them the most diverse mammal groups after rodents.
There are over fifty unique species of bats living in national parks. Some species can live throughout the year, while others hibernate during winter to conserve energy.
Other bats migrate over long distances to find prey and avoid the harsh winter season. The insectivorous microbats search for prey near open water sources like streams or ponds.
Some important shelters for bats to rest or roost and avoid predators include caves, trees, mines, slopes, talus, old buildings, bridges, and rock crevices.
What do bats eat?
Most bats prefer eating the night-flying insects, which helps control the insect population and benefits the agricultural sector. These are mostly the insectivorous microbats.
Some megabats, which are usually larger and live in the tropics, such as fruit bats, feed on fruits and nectar. These normally live in South Africa, Australia, Europe, and Asia and make up a third of all bat species.
Another infamous species known as vampire bats feed off blood from animals such as birds, pigs, cows, sheep, and horses. So, do bats eat mice? A small section of bats consumes small vertebrates like fish, frogs, and mice.
The list below provides a list of what bats eat:
- Chinch bugs
- Blood (Only vampire bats)
What predators eat bats?
Bats usually have few natural predators. But what eats bats? Owls, snakes, falcons, cats, crocodiles, and hawks prey on bats. Raccoons, weasels, and minks will also eat bats roosting in caves and trees.
Disease is a major threat facing bats. For instance, the white-nose syndrome has been killing millions of bats worldwide. Some bats hibernate during winter or travel long distances to avoid the harsh cold season.
Are bats dangerous to humans or pets?
You may be wondering, “Do bats attack humans?” Some bats, such as the flying foxes, could carry viruses and bacteria, affecting humans, but the infection risk is low.
If untrained, you should not handle a bat because some species have large sharp teeth that can puncture the skin. This includes the big brown bats and the hoary bats.
Naturally, bats instinctively avoid human and animal interaction. It’s highly unlikely that a bat will attack you or your pet.