Bats – The Good, the Bad, and the Curious

Bats are usually social animals. That is, they live in groups. Unlike other social animals such as bees and prairie dogs, bats do not make their own dwellings. They usually live in caves.

If you see one flying into a cave, you can be reasonably sure there are other bats inside. In some caves thousands of bats crowd together on walls or ceilings. In such large colonies scientists often find bats of one kind sharing a cave with ones of a different species. Smaller bat colonies numbering only 10 or 12 bats may live in a hollow tree.

Caves and hollow trees are not the only places where bats live. Some bats simply roost in trees, hanging like leaves from twigs and branches. Two kinds of tropical bats make little tents from palm leaves. Such a bat slits the leaf with its teeth, then hangs inside the folds.

There are bats living in the pyramids of Egypt and in the fruit trees of Australia. In North America and Europe human beings sometimes 토토사이트 share a house or a barn with a whole colony of bats and never know the animals are there. A bat can squeeze through narrow cracks and roost between layers of wall and ceiling.

Most bats are nocturnal. This means that they are active only at night. They sleep in the daytime and come out at night to find food. Only a few kinds of bats venture out in bright sunlight. Bats are probably night creatures for the same reasons that most small mammals are. A small animal is in less danger at night. In the daytime there is the constant danger of being eaten by larger animals that sleep at night. Also, at night bats can catch insects with less competition from birds.

Most bats live on insects alone. Some eat only fruit. Some eat both insects and fruit. A few kinds of bats eat other things-meat, fish, and even flower nectar.

In Canada and the United States the most familiar bats are insect eaters, though there are nectar-feeding bats in Arizona and California. Probably the best-known fruit bats are the huge flying foxes. In Australia these giant bats have become a serious nuisance to fruit growers. They swarm over the orchards, devouring fruit at night and roosting in the trees by day.

In India one kind of bat has been seen eating mice, birds, and lizards. When captured, the large spear-nosed bats of tropical America will eat almost anything. They have been fed bananas, horsemeat, liver, and hamburger. They will even eat smaller bats.

The bats with the most unusual diets are found in the tropics. Noctilio bats of South and Middle America eat fishes. They skim over a pond or lake, dragging their sharp claws through the water to catch small fishes swimming near the surface. Another group of jungle bats, the tiny hummingbird bats, eat chiefly the pollen and nectar of flowers.

Probably the most famous tropical bats are the vampires, found only in South and Middle America. – The vampire bat has inspired legends, superstitions, and horror tales-all of them false. A vampire bat does bite other animals and drinks their blood. But, contrary to the legends, it does not drain its victims. A vampire bat may bite a sleeping horse, cow, or goat-or even a man-without being noticed. Its sharp teeth make a shallow cut. Then the bat simply laps up a small amount of blood and flies away. The chief danger to the victim is infect-ion. Vampire bats, as well as several other species, are known earners of rabies.

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