“Bats play an important role in our ecosystem. They help pollinate plants so we have food. They eat insects so bugs do not overwhelm us. But 25% of all bat species are threatened with extinction. Find out more about bats on this month’s Science Trek. Host Joan Cartan-Hansen and her guests, Rita Dixon and Jesse Barber, answer students’ questions about bats.”
Bats are the only mammals that fly, and they play a very important role in our ecosystem. Find out more. We’re here to answer your questions about bats.
Join us for science trek.
Hi, I’m Joan Cartan-Hansen, and welcome to Science Trek, and welcome to Boise State University’s sensory ecology lab. We’re here to answer your questions about bats.
But, before we do, let’s learn a little bit more.
Bats are mammals. They have furry bodies. Their wings are really webbed hands with thin skin stretched from their long fingers to their back legs. Bats are the only mammals that fly. A few other mammals can glide, but bats are true flapping fliers. The fastest bat can fly at more than 30 miles per hour.
One of the biggest bats is the golden-capped fruit bat. It’s a fruit-eating bat with a wingspan of more than 5 feet. The smallest bat, and indeed, the world’s smallest mammal, is the hog-nosed or bumblebee bat. It weighs less than 2 grams and is the size of a bumblebee.
Worldwide, there are more than 1200 different kinds of bats. Bats sleep during the day and feed at night. Most bats find their food using echolocation. They make rapid high-frequency sounds. These sound waves bounce off their prey and travel back to the bats’ ears. The bats hear the echo and find their dinner.
Some bats eat things like fruit or frogs or small birds, but most bats eat insects. Little brown bats can catch 250 mosquito-size insects in 15 minutes. A bat eats about half its own weight in insects each night. If you weighed 100 pounds, that would be like eating 50 one-pound pizzas every day.