Island Farm, Former German POW Camp, Bridgend,
Some interesting facts
and videos about bats
THE PHYSIOLOGY OF BATS
Bats are nocturnal (active at night),
so how do they navigate, socialise and feed in the dark?
Bats are flying mammals. They can fly at speeds reaching 60 mph.
While other mammals can glide, bats are the only mammals capable of continued
A bat has powerful chest
muscles which it uses to flap its wings. It steers by moving the bones in
its fingers and legs to change the wing's shape.
Some bats live by themselves while others live in caves with thousands of
Inside the cold and draft caves bats like so much, they keep warm by folding
their wings around them, trapping air against their bodies for instant
There are well over 1,000 species of bats worldwide, making up
one-quarter of the world’s mammal population
There are forty different species of bats in the United States and
eighteen in the UK.
More than 50 percent of bat species in the
United Statesare either in severe
decline or are listed as endangered. You don't know what you've got
until it's gone. Industry, deforestation, pollution, and good old-fashioned
killing have wiped out many bats and their habitats. For information on how
to help keep bats around, contact your local conservation society.
The average lifespan of a bat varies, but some species of brown bat can live
to be 30 years old. Considering that other small mammals live only two years
or so, that's impressive.
Some bats migrate south for the winter, while others hibernate through the
cold winter months. During hibernation, bats can survive in freezing temperatures, even after being encased
Most bats have
only one pup a year,
making them extremely vulnerable to extinction.
mothers can find their babies among
thousands or millions of other bats by their unique voices and
Austin is a seasonal home to North America’s largest urban population of
Mexican free-tailed bats, which live beneath the Congress Avenue Bridge.
Approximately 1.5 million bats reside there!
Bat droppings, called guano, are one of the richest fertilizers. Bat guano
was once a big business. Guano was Texas
largest mineral export before oil!
Bats wash behind their ears.
They spend more time grooming themselves than even the most image-obsessed
teenager. They clean themselves and each other meticulously by licking and
scratching for hours...
Pteropus (feathered feet) bats (also known as flying foxes or fruit bats)
are the largest in the world. The world’s largest bat is the "flying fox"
that lives on islands in the South Pacific. It has a wingspan of up six
The world’s smallest bat is the bumble bee bat of Thailand, which is
smaller than a thumbnail and weighs less than a penny.
ARE BATS BLIND? - ECHOLOCATION
Bats ‘see’ in the dark using a special skill called echolocation. Bats make
noises and wait for the sound waves to bounce back off objects (an echo) to
their ears, if
it doesn’t bounce back then they can safely fly forward. They can tell the
distance of various objects by how quickly the sound waves bounce back to
Bats are not blind, but can see in complete
darkness using their ears.
By using echolocation, bats can find their food in total darkness. They
locate insects by
emitting inaudible high-pitched sounds (ultrasound), much higher in
pitch than humans can hear. They emit 10-20 high frequency beeps per second and
listening to echoes. In 18 century experiments a scientist realise that if
he blocks the bats' ears, they stray on the ground, they refuse or
crashed pathetically on obstacles. The conclusions broke the rules of
'Creation' and were not published... When the scientific community were
made aware of such experiments, they considered the results as
erroneous, because the experiments inflicted unnecessary suffering to
the bats. For some time they decided to adopt the theory that the bat's
ability to fly in the dark was attributed to the sixth 'touching/
feeling' sense. When the Titanic sunk, a scientist suggested that ships
are equipped with such sixth sense similar to the bat's blind vision to
make them navigate around obstacles such as icebergs. In 1937 in USA a
professor made the first ever recording of bats' sounds (the equipment
is now known as a bat detector) and reduced the ultrasound to lower
frequencies so the human ear could hear them. In 1943, America run
experiments with bats carrying miniature bombs that started a fire, in
Operation X-ray. These bats were to be aimed at Japan. After 2 million
dollars and the sacrifice of thousands of animals, the military
cancelled Operation X-Ray. We are now in the era of animal SONAR
research. Fascinating facts! For more on this watch the
first framed video underneath, called Secrets and Mysteries of Bats.
People who describe themselves as “blind as a bat” might want to
find a new turn of phrase. Scientists have recently discovered that some bats rely on
polarized light to orient themselves. As bats awake at sunset and come out
to feed 15 minutes after the sunset, they use the band of polarized light
that appears in the sky (with one end pointing north and the other pointing
south) to adjust their internal compass.
Bats emit sounds generally through the mouth, but
Horseshoe bats and Old World leaf-nosed bats emit their echolocation calls
through their nostrils, where they have developed basal fleshy horseshoe or
leaf-like structures that are well-adapted to function as megaphones!
Bats are a hugely successful order of mammals and much
of their success is down to echolocation.
Just imaging how fast they need to process audio information when feeding
insects or flying as fast as 60mph in the dark! Toothed whales have evolved
echolocation, but let's be fair, they do not swim as fast or feed on minute
insects either! Interestingly, like electric
fish, which sense amplitude and phase changes of a self-generated electric
field to determine location and features of surrounding objects, bats have
independently evolved a
jamming avoidance response (JAR). This actually
helps them communicate in a large and noisy crowd of bats by changing the
timing of their calls or rapidly shifting their frequency!
So to find out
more about bats and echolocation, you can visit these links (Wikipedia,
Scientific American and
Map of Life).
WHAT DO THEY EAT? - THE
VAMPIRE BAT MYTH
Most bats feed on insects, while others eat fruit, fish or even blood.
Bats can eat up to 1,200 mosquito-sized insects in an hour, and often
consume their body weight in insects every
night. In Bracken Cave, Texas, it's estimated that the 20 million
Mexican free-tailed bats that live there eat about 200 tons of insects . . .
Bats don't have "fat days."
The metabolism of a bat is enviable. They can digest bananas, mangoes, and
berries in about 20 minutes.
There are 3 species of vampire bats which feed solely on blood.
Vampire bats have small and extremely sharp teeth which are capable of
piercing an animal’s skin (humans included) without them even noticing. If
you are travelling in Central or South America, however, you might see a
vampire bat bite a cow and then lick blood from the wound -- no sucking
Vampire bats can carry rabies, making their bites potentially dangerous.
Fewer than 10 people in the last 50 years
have contracted rabiesfrom North
American bats. Due to movies and television, bats are thought to be
germ machines, bringing disease and toxins to innocent victims. Not true.
Bats avoid people. If you are bitten by a bat, go to the doctor, but don't
start making funeral arrangements... You'll probably be fine.
An anticoagulant found in
vampire bat salivamay soon be used to treat human cardiac
patients. The same stuff that keeps blood flowing from vampire
bats' prey seems to keep blood flowing in human beings, too. Scientists in
several countries are trying to copy the enzymes found in vampire bat saliva
to treat heart conditions and stop the effects of strokes in humans.
This 48-minute documentary explores the world of bats and the scientists who
study them -- including the late Donald Griffin, a Harvard zoologist who was the
first to describe their echolocation ability in the 1940s. Using 3-D graphics to
recreate the bats' acoustic vision and shooting with infra-red and high-speed
cameras, this film offers an exhilarating "bats-eye" journey into the night.
this video, you'll learn how
to take a bat walk and how
to garden for bats! Two
activities to help you learn
about bats and get involved
in protecting these
Tick paralysed female
spectacled flying fox gives
birth to a premature pup at
Tolga Bat Hospital in
Trish Wimberley looks after hundreds of orphaned baby bats and rears them until
they can be released into the wild. It's a tireless, never ending job which
keeps her awake all hours (she apparently went 3 nights without sleeping once).
It just goes to show, motherhood can transcend between all species and Trish is
happy playing that role to assist a creature that is vital to the Australian
Bat Zone Sneak Peek!
Take a tour through the Bat Zone and meet our amazing Animal Ambassadors!
Bat Zone Tour with Rob Mies
Tour the Organization for
Bat Conservation's Bat Zone
at Cranbrook Institute of
Science with TV personality,
author, and conservation
biologist Rob Mies. See bats
from around the world
including vampire bats and
the largest bats in the