Did You Know Bats Are Mammals?
Bats are mammals, class Mammalia: warm blooded animals whose bodies are covered with hair and who bear live young and nourish them with milk produced by the mothers. They belong to the order Chiroptera, which is the Latin word meaning “hand-wing.” These unique animals need to be handled properly and carefully for bat conservation efforts to be successful.
Bats are the only mammal which are capable of true flight. All of the other so-call flying mammals such as the flying squirrels or flying lemurs are gliders and lack the physical adaptation that enables bats to fly. As the name Chiroptera, their wings are highly modified hands. Each wing consisting of four fingers and a thumb covered with a thin membrane to form a wing. The wing could be used like a hand to scoop up insects and bring them to the mouth for consumption during flight. Another special adaptation that make bats unique from all other mammals is that their hind limbs are mounted at 180 degrees so that the knees point backward. This positioning of the knees helps them hang upside down and steer easier during flight.
They Live Everywhere!
Bats make up almost one quarter of the entire 4,625 known species of mammals. Bats originated about 120 million years ago and have hardly evolved during that time. Found on almost every continent in the world except Antarctica, they are among the most diverse and geographically dispersed mammal in the world. They can fly 10,000 feet above the earth reaching speeds of up to 60 mph and possess such sophisticated navigation systems (echolocation), that some aspects of the way they function are still a mystery. Bats have the longest life span of any mammal in relation to body size. Some bats can live over 40 years.
Female bats have one to two pups a year. During the maternity period which is when the females begin to give birth, all expecting mothers leave the main roost and form a “maternity colony.” Maternity colonies consist of only mothers and babies. The females will take turns feeding each others pups when the rest of the group is out feeding. Babies are born helpless and depend solely on the mothers breast milk for nutrition. Baby bats will be ready to fly in 6 to 8 weeks, depending on the species.
Maternity Season is from April 15th through August 15th. Bat exclusions are strictly prohibited during this time.