|[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note [French]|
|Bats are the only mammals capable of true flight. The bat's wing anatomically resembles the human hand, with extremely elongated fingers and a wing membrane stretched between. Almost 1,000 bat species can be found worldwide. In fact, bats make up a quarter of all mammal species on Earth!|
Bats are divided into two suborders: Megachiroptera, meaning large bat, and Microchiroptera, meaning small bat. The largest bats have a 6 foot wing span. The bodies of the smallest bats are no more than an inch long.
Most bats live longer than most mammals of their size. The longest known lifespan of a bat in the wild is 30 years for a little brown bat.
Bats can be found almost anywhere in the world except the polar regions and extreme deserts.
Bats find shelter in caves, crevices, tree cavities, and buildings.
Bats specialize in different foods. Seventy 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.
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.
For their size, bats are the slowest reproducing mammals on Earth. The vast majority of bats bear only one offspring a year. A baby bat at birth weighs up to 25 percent of its mother's body weight, which is like a human mother giving birth to a 31-pound baby! Offspring typically are cared for in maternity colonies, where females congregate to bear and raise their young.
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.
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