What is a bat?
A bat is a mammal – the only one with true flight.
Bats can see about as well as we see and they use echolocation.
There are about 1,100 species of bats in the world – that is almost 25% of all mammal species.
There are 45 species in the US, 24 in CA and about 16 species that live or migrate through the Northern California valley, foothills and mountains.
All our bats eat insects.
A few bat facts:
- Most bats eat insects including some disease-causing and crop-eating insects. The insect-eating bats help to reduce illness, crop loss and the use of poisonous pesticides on food.
- Loss of bats destabilizes ecosystems and increases our reliance on chemical alternatives which often threaten both environmental and human health.
- Worldwide, bats play essential roes in keeping populations of night flying insects in balance.
- Desert ecosystems rely on nectar feeding bats as primary pollinators of giant cactus.
- A red bat that eats 100 moths may prevent egg-laying that would produce 25,000 new caterpillars that could attack farmers crops.
- One little brown bat can catch 1,200 bugs in an hour, often two in a single second. A nursing mother eats more than her own body weight nightly – up to 4,500 insects, including pests such as mosquitoes.
- The largest bat in the world is the Giant Flying Fox found in Malaysia with a 5 ½ foot wing span, the largest in the US is the Western Mastiff with a 2 foot wing span
- The smallest bat in the world is the Bumblebee Bat found in Thailand with a 6 inch wind span, in the US the Western Pipistrelle with an 8 inch wing span.
- Bats are exceptionally vulnerable to extinction, in part because they are the slowest reproducing mammals on earth for their size, most produce only one young annually. Also, many species live in large colonies where one attack can kill thousands, even millions.
- More than 50% of American bat species are endangered or declining sufficiently to warrant special concern.
2-3 day old Mexican Free-tail bat and a baby Myotis.