Bats are wonderful and misunderstood animals that are essential to our natural world. There are about 1,300+ bat species worldwide, about twenty percent of ALL classified mammal species! Here in Alabama, we have 16 bat species.
About seventy percent of bats eat insects (insectivores). Most of the rest are frugivores, or fruit eaters. In fact, bats are important pollinators for many plants around the world. A few bat species feed from animals other than insects, like the vampire bat (but there are only 3 species of vampire bats, and they all live far away from Alabama!). All of Alabama’s bats feed on insects and they really help control mosquitoes and other insects that are harmful to crops. A single little brown bat can eat up to 1,000 mosquito-sized insects in a single hour!
Bats are flying mammals in the order Chiroptera (from the Greek words that mean “hand wing”). Bats have been around for at least 50 million years, since the time of the dinosaurs. They live on every continent except Antarctica and can be found in every environment except for the most extreme areas of desert and ice. The forelimbs of bats are webbed and developed as wings, making them the only mammals naturally capable of true and sustained flight. By contrast, other mammals said to fly, such as flying squirrels, gliding possums and colugos, glide rather than fly, and only for short distances. Bats do not flap their entire forelimbs, as birds do, but instead flap their spread out digits, which are very long and covered with a thin membrane.
Facts About Bats: