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Microbat

Microbat Facts

Size 1.1-5.5 inch (2.9-14 cm)
Speed Up to 100 mph (160 km/h)
Weight 0.07-7 oz (2-200 g)
Lifespan 10-30 years
Food Insects, fruits, animal blood
Predators Cats, birds of prey, snakes
Habitat Worldwide (except Antarctic and Polar regions)
Order Chiroptera
Family Microbats
Scientific name Microchiroptera
Characteristics The only mammal that is able to fly

Main Characteristics

There are more than 900 species of microbats worldwide, with funny names like horseshoe bat, disc-winged bat, thumbless bat or hairy faced bat. This profile provides some general information on microbats.

Senses and Abilities

Microbats Use Ultrasound Navigation

In order to navigate at night, microbats emit ultrasounds up to 200 times per second. The produced sound waves are being reflected by objects and prey such as insects. Thus, the bat exactly knows where it is and can locate its prey.

Are Microbats Blind?

Blind As A Bat? Although microbats rely mainly on echolocation, they are not completely blind. They just can't see exceptionally well ;) (unlike fruit bats).

Bat Bat - Photo: Gucio_55/Shutterstock

Behavior

What Do Microbats Eat?

They feed on insects that we regard as particularly annoying ;) Especially flies, mosquitoes, fruit flies, beetles, wasps and stink bugs. There are also microbats that eat fruit, but fruit bats are actually better known for this.

Microbats Hibernate in Winter

Like bears, microbats try to put on enough fat for hibernation. This is necessary to regain the normal body temperature at waking up. During hibernation the temperature significantly decreases. In frost-free caves it lies a little bit above the ambient temperature. Mostly, the animals huddle together in their homes to consume as little energy as possible.

Importance For the Ecosystem

Microbats are very important: they keep the number of insects and therefore the nature in balance.

Bat Bat - Photo: Meaning/Shutterstock

Bat Records

CategoryBat speciesRecord
Longest sleeping Brown bat 20 hours
Longest ears Brown long-eared bat 1.5 in (4 cm)*
Smallest bat Kitti's hog-nosed bat 1.1 in (29 mm)
Widest wingspan Spectral bat 40.1 in (102 cm)
Longest tongue Tube-lipped nectar bat 2.9 in (7.5 cm)*
Flying altitude Mexican free-tailed bat 10,000 ft (3,000 m)
Flying speed Mexican free-tailed bat 100 mph (160 km/h)

* Body length: 1.9 inch (5 cm)!

The Largest Microbat Colony

The largest known microbat colony is located in Texas (USA), in a cave called „Bracken Cave“. The colony consists of 20 million (!) Mexican free-tailed bats. It is also the largest congregation of mammals in one place.

Bat Bat - Photo: Gucio_55/Shutterstock

Myths and Truths

Do Microbats Suck Blood?

Yes, there are microbats that feed on the blood of mammals. They are called vampire bats. Sometimes they do bite people. There is no need to fear that microbats could suck a high amount or even all the blood, but they could pass on diseases through a bite. Vampire bats live exclusively in America - from the north of Mexico to the south of Chile/Argentina.

Are Microbats Dangerous?

Many people are afraid of bats because there are many disturbing stories about them: They are said to be relatives of the devil, wrap themselves up in women’s hair and suck the blood of sleeping humans. The microbat has a bad reputation, although the trademark of one rather famous super hero is a bat costume ... Batman! At least for the Chinese the bat is a lucky charm and the Maya worshipped the bat as a god.

But: Microbats can bite and transmit rabies. That's why you should never touch them.

Useful Information

Microbats in the Apartment

What can be done if a microbat gets lost in your apartment? First of all, keep calm. Open the window and turn off all lights. Important: As soon as the microbats are outside, look behind curtains, in vases, behind furniture and picture frames. When they are all gone, it's best to keep the windows closed for a few days. Otherwise: Call a specialist.

Bat Bat - Photo: Igor Chernomorchenko/Shutterstock

Fun Facts

Not All Bats are Microbats

There is another kind of bat: the fruit bats or flying foxes, which belong to the megabats. No, it has nothing in common with a fox. Contrary to the insect-eating bats, the fruitbat prefers to feed on ... fruits, nectar and pollen. Instead of echolocation they use their sharp eyes and ears to navigate.

Flight Direction

It is said that microbats always fly in the left direction when leaving their caves. But why? Presumably they let themselves be guided by the moon. When it is rising it appears on the left side from the bat’s perspective. But this is just a myth. Bats take all kinds of different directions when leaving their caves. Right, left, upwards or straight onwards.

The Microbat Is Related To:

  • Free-Tailed Bat
  • Fruit Bat
  • Horseshoe Bat
  • Leaf-Nosed Bat

Animals in the Same Biome:

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