Learn about bats and other endangered species in The Homeschool Scientist’s endangered species series.
Growing up in a rural area of farms and forests, animals were everywhere – both wild and domestic. It was just part of everyday life to see cows, deer, rabbits, dogs, cats, turkeys, or many other types of animals, including bats. I have always had a love of animals, but the bats fascinate me most of all.
I think it’s the mystery that surrounds them. It’s easy to spot a large cow or deer in a field, or even a quick rabbit in the yard. Bats, on the other hand, are usually only spotted if you are looking for them. It’s hard to see a small, swift, flying creature at night.
We used to spot bats flying around our security light in the evening catching the insects the light attracted. Sometimes at dusk, we would see bats flying above the water of the lake getting their fill of mosquitoes.
My dad always saw the need for bats as pest control. He made bat houses and attached them to the sides of our barns and out-buildings. I would watch for movement around the houses in the evening. Seeing them drop out of the house and then take off and fly was an amazing sight.
The mysteriousness of bats drew me to them, but it’s their many other unique characteristics that really set them apart from other animals. Take a look at these bat facts and I think you’ll be amazed by them, too.
- Bats are the only mammals capable of actual flight.
- Bats are nocturnal.
- Bats are clean animals that regularly clean themselves.
- There are over 1200 bat species worldwide.
- Bats make up one fourth of the mammal species on Earth.
- Bats find food in the dark by echolocation.
- Bats species have varying diets. Some eat insects. Others eat fruit or nectar, while others eat small animals.
- Fruit and nectar eating bats are good pollinators.
- Little brown bats can eat 1000 mosquitoes per hour.
- There are only 3 species of vampire bats.
- Over 50% of the U.S. bat population in the US is endangered or in steep decline.
- Some bats migrate, and others hibernate.
- Bats can live over 20 years.
- The largest bat species in the world is the Giant Golden Crowned Flying Fox with weight of 2.5 lbs and a wingspan of over 5 feet!
- The smallest bat species in the world is Kitti’s Hog-nosed bat weighing 1/4 ounce and is 1 inch long.
(You might want to download the FREE Animal Report Printable for your bat study!)
Why Are Bat Populations Declining?
Bats are an important part of their ecosystem. They keep insect populations in check and are pollinators of plants. Sadly, in many areas of the U.S. and the rest of the world, bat numbers are in a steep decline. Fifty percent of the U.S. species of bats are endangered. Why?
The major threat to bats in the U.S. right now is White-Nose Syndrome . This is a fungus that is killing hibernating bat species in the United States in huge numbers. It is named for the white fungus that grows on the wings and noses of the bats. This fungus is suspected to be an introduced species and first discovered in cave bats in New York in 2006. By 2016, White-Nose Syndrome spread to more than half of the U.S. states.
The fungus irritates the skin of the bats causing them to wake from their hibernation before it is time. This causes the bats to burn through their fat reserves too soon and they starve to death.
Another proposed threat to bats is wind turbines. The growing wind energy industry is building an increasing number of turbines across the country. Bats and birds are being injured and killed by the rotating blades. More studies need to be done to give an accurate assessment of the numbers.
When humans destroy natural areas, animal and plant habitat is destroyed. Sometimes species will move into another area. Other times there is no other areas with the proper food and habitat for that species. This causes the decline in population numbers
Here are some great links for further bat study.
- Bat Conservation International
- What Is Killing The Bats?
- KidZone bats facts and activities
- Free Bat Unit Study
- Build Your Own Bat House
Conservation Tales Book Giveaway!!
Over the summer, we attended the Illinois Bat Festival presented by the Organization For Bat Conservation. It was a great opportunity to learn more about bats and their important role in our environment. At the Bat Festival, we also met an author, Tim McConnell, who has created a book series, Conservation Tales.
Conservation Tales was created to “Help (children) understand the science behind wildlife conservation while discovering potential careers and experiencing inquiry-based science at home.” The first two books of the series have been released, The Cerulean Warbler and Bats. Five additional books are to be added to the series.
The author and illustrators of Creation Tales met with bat researchers to learn about bats and current bat research. They used this information to create the stories and imagery for book, Bats. Kids will join scientists as they study bats and their environments, while gaining reading practice. Links for further information and hands-on activities are, also, included.
I would love for you to add Bats to your library. Tell me about your favorite wildlife in the comments to be entered to win a copy of Bats signed by the author! (Contest ends midnight August 12, 2017.)