When you think of cute, cuddly animals, bats probably aren’t the first critters that come to mind. But, despite their often negative reputation, bats are actually some of the most adorable and interesting animals on the planet.
In fact, there are well over 1,400 identified types of bats around the world with new species being discovered every year. Plus, out of all of these funky flying mammals, there are dozens that are certifiably cute.
To help you learn more about these amazing creatures, we’ve created this ultimate guide to all things bat-related. Up next, we’ll do a deep dive into the world of bats where we’ll discuss everything from how these critters are classified to the 28 cutest bat species on the planet.
Let’s get started!
The 28 Cutest Bat Species
Bats might not have a reputation as cute, cuddly little creatures, but they’re actually secretly adorable! Out of all 1,400 types of bats in the world, here are 28 of the cutest bat species for you to check out:
1. Hoary Bat (Lasiurus cinereus)
Boasting a precious little face and a fluffy head, the hoary bat is a veritable gem of the animal kingdom. This tiny critter is one of the most widely distributed bats in the western hemisphere as it can be found anywhere from Iceland to Hawai’i.
It is known to migrate some incredible distances at the start and end of the winter in order to avoid spending too much time in the cold. In fact, they can fly up to 13 mph (21 km/h) and soar as high as 8,000 feet (2,400 m) during their migration.
However, if you ever get a chance to see a hoary bat, consider yourself lucky. They tend to be quite solitary, so they’re not likely to pop out of their secluded napping area in the trees when you walk by. But, if you do spot a hoary bat during your travels, don’t forget to marvel in its cuteness!
2. Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus)
Aptly named, the little brown bat is, well, little and brown. This critter is known to be one of the most versatile bats as it can live anywhere from coastal Alaska all the way to the caves of Mississippi.
Despite their cute faces, the little brown bats are known to have quite a voracious appetite. In fact, they can eat up to half their body weight in insects in a single night! Plus, they’re spectacular fliers with Olympic-level metabolisms. That’s because their tiny hearts can beat up to 1,000 times per minute when in flight.
Unfortunately, the little brown bat is currently threatened by the spread of white-nose syndrome (WNS)—a fungal disease that is particularly rampant in North America. So, if you’re ever lucky enough to go caving in North America, your guide might ask you to take special precautions to stop the spread of this deadly bat disease.
3. Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus)
Although they’re not actually that closely related to the little brown bat, the big brown bat is equally as cute. By North American standards, the big brown bat is considered to be fairly large, though they’re best known for their fluffy brownish-colored fur.
Big brown bats are one of the most common bat species in North America. You can find them pretty much anywhere as they feed on insects like beetles, moths, all types of wasps, and flying ants.
Despite their fairly large size, big brown bats are also one of the fastest bat species on the planet. They’ve even been reported to fly as fast as 40 mph (64 km/h), which is pretty darn fast for a big bat.
- The ultimate illustrated guide to all known bat species with lavish full-color photographs and lively narrative.
- In-depth profiles of 400 megabats and microbats and detailed summaries of all the species identified to date.
- Written by a team of experts, including an author and illustrator who has worked in natural history publishing, and an ecologist, conservationist, and wildlife photographer who specializes in bat ecology, behavior, and conservation.
- A comprehensive guide that explores bats' evolution, biology, behavior, and ecology, with an introduction that examines their natural history and unique adaptations to life on the wing.
4. California Leaf-Nosed Bat (Macrotus californicus)
Known to inhabit some of the most inhospitable environments, the California leaf-nosed bat is a small, desert-dwelling critter found in the United States and Mexico. As you can see, it has some adorably large ears and a funny little projection on its nose, which makes it particularly cute.
In addition to being cuddly-looking, the California leaf-nosed bat is also an expert survivalist. Although it doesn’t hibernate, this bat likes to live in caves and abandoned mines in Mexico, California, and Arizona. In these environments, it uses its superb sense of echolocation to identify flying insects and other prey that are as small as 0.19 mm in size.
Plus, it’s one of the only bats in the world that can walk bipedally (on its hind legs). But, funny enough, it can’t walk forward—instead, it can only slowly step backward!
5. Mexican Free-Tailed Bat (Tadarida brasiliensis)
Widely believed to be the fastest bat in North America, the Mexican free-tailed bat is a small critter that inhabits the United States, Mexico, and parts of Central and South America. It lives in massive colonies of up to 20 million individuals, but most colonies have no more than 200,000 bats.
While the Mexican free-tailed bat’s speed often wins it a lot of accolades, it’s also a particularly good hunter. In fact, a single colony of these bats can eat up to 250 tons of insects in a single evening. So, be sure to thank your neighborhood Mexican free-tailed bat colony for keeping our skies free of biting mosquitoes!
6. Pallid Bat (Antrozous pallidus)
One of the larger bats found in North America, the pallid bat is a highly sociable bat that lives throughout the western half of the continent. It has adorably large ears and a mostly white body, which makes it both adorable and distinctive among other North American bats.
The pallid bat likes to roost in caves and abandoned mines, though you may also find them in tree hollows. Most pallid bats prefer to eat insects, but they’ve occasionally been known to eat a scorpion, which is pretty impressive if you ask us.
That being said, their population is declining rapidly, though it’s not entirely sure why this is. Some researchers speculate that the bat’s population is declining as mines—their preferred roosting area—close throughout parts of Texas and as forested areas get cleared for commercial timber harvests.
7. Brown Long-Eared Bat (Plecotus auritus)
Arguably Europe’s most endearing bat, the brown long-eared bat is found throughout the continent, but it is most commonly sighted in the United Kingdom. As you might’ve guessed from its name, this critter has some pretty large ears that can sometimes be as long as its body!
Most brown long-eared bats live in woodland areas and caves. They’re most active at night and they use echolocation to find their favorite prey: insects.
Just when you thought this bat couldn’t get any cuter, it manages to steal your heart again with its adorable sleeping behavior. In fact, the brown long-eared bat is known to tuck its huge ears under its wings while snoozing, perhaps to help drown out all the noise of the colony.
8. Great Fruit-Eating Bat (Artibeus lituratus)
Featuring a small, squirrel-like face, the great fruit-eating bat is a charming critter that lives throughout Central America and northern South America. Aptly named, it tends to feed on fruit, though it is known to also eat nectar.
However, the great fruit-eating bat is actually a sociable little critter that’s known to forage for fruit to share with the rest of its harem. When a single bat locates a tree with some tasty fruit, it will actually report its findings back to the harem so everyone can come and have a snack.
That being said, scientists have recently discovered that some great fruit-eating bats have developed a condition called alopecia, which causes the bats to lose most, if not all of their hair. Scientists aren’t quite sure what’s causing this widespread hair loss, but a number of research projects are currently underway to learn more about the issue.
9. Spotted Bat (Euderma maculatum)
What do you get when you give a bat elephant-like ears and a dalmatian-style fur coat? A spotted bat, of course!
The charming spotted bat is found throughout western North America where it lives in mountainous and desert environments. While it was initially thought to be quite rare, the spotted bat is quite common, though its preferred roosting area in cliffs makes it difficult to observe in the wild.
What really sets the spotted bat apart, however, is its striking features and coloration. In addition to its huge pink ears, the spotted bat also has a black body with large white spots distributed without. That makes it certifiably cute, if you ask us!
10. Desert Long-Eared Bat (Otonycteris hemprichii)
The desert is a harsh and often inhospitable environment. But, the tiny desert long-eared bat seems to have no problem surviving in its arid habitat in North Africa and the Middle East.
While we picked this bat for our list because of its adorably large ears, it’s also one of the desert’s most effective hunters. Indeed, despite its small stature, the desert long-eared bat is capable of eating fairly large spiders.
In fact, one study even found that most desert long-eared bats are capable of eating scorpions, including the very venomous Palestine yellow scorpion. Even though they often get stung directly in the face by these scorpions, the desert long-eared bat seems to show no signs of injury and it simply continues hunting its prey.
That makes the desert long-eared bat one tough cookie.
11. Canyon Bat (Parastrellus hesperus)
Also called the western pipistrelle, the canyon bat is a tiny critter with grey to brownish-colored fur that’s known to live throughout western North America. As one of the smallest bats on the continent, it certainly earns a spot on our list of the cutest bats in the world (though its fluffy face doesn’t hurt its cause, either).
The canyon bat, as you might guess, does like to live in canyons. But, it’s most at home in desert regions near areas of flowing water. Its favorite snack is any insect it can find, which could include everything from moths to wasps.
Plus, they like to head out to hunt early in the evening, so it’s fairly common to spot canyon bats right around sunset during camping trips.
12. Mariana Fruit Bat (Pteropus mariannus)
Sporting a puppy-like face, it’s hard not to love the Mariana fruit bat. These medium-sized bats are sometimes called flying foxes, thanks to their canine-like appearance, and their mostly brown-colored fur.
However, you can find the winsome Mariana fruit bat only in Guam and in the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands. There, they love to hang out in forested areas (particularly around coconut groves). So, if you ever get a chance to visit some of these exceptional places, be sure to keep an eye out for the Mariana fruit bat!
13. Peter’s Dwarf Epauletted Fruit Bat (Micropteropus pusillus)
A truly adorable bat, the Peter’s Dwarf epauletted fruit bat is found throughout parts of Africa, though it’s most commonly found in Ethiopia. It loves to hang out in woodlands, savannahs, and swamp forests, but its small size makes it difficult to spot at nighttime.
In addition to their cute faces and big brown eyes, male Peter’s dwarf epauletted fruit bats have little white tufts of fur that grow on their shoulders—just like the epaulettes you’d find on military uniforms.
They also love to eat fruit, but they can get fairly lazy. So you can often find them hanging around banana plantations and mango groves where they hope to score a quick meal with relative ease.
14. Grey-Headed Flying Fox (Pteropus poliocephalus)
Native to Australia, the grey-headed flying fox is one of the largest bats in the southern hemisphere. With a total wingspan of up to 3.2 ft (1 m), this bat is anything but small, but it does have a cuddly possum-like face that you just can’t ignore.
These flying foxes are found throughout eastern Australia, though you can sometimes find small colonies in the western part of the country. They particularly enjoy eating figs, but it will also eat nectar and pollen when need be.
Perhaps the most adorable characteristic of the grey-headed flying fox, however, is that their pups will cling onto their mothers for about 3 weeks until they’re strong enough to fly. Once they get bigger, their moms will leave them in little creches with the other pups as they go out to forage for fruit. It’s like a little baby bat daycare—what could be cuter?
15. Ghost Bat (Macroderma gigas)
We know what you’re thinking: “A ghost bat? That doesn’t sound cute at all!”
Well, if that was your first reaction, think again! The tiny white ghost bat is about as delightful as it gets. They’re found throughout northern Australia where they tend to hide in caves within the rainforest. They particularly enjoy hanging out at the Mount Etna Caves in Queensland, so that’s a great place to check out if you’re looking to see these critters in person.
The ghost bat is quite small at just about 5” (13 cm) in length. But, they have a white-ish body with impossibly long ears that give them a whimsical face that’s sure to melt your heart.
16. Hammer-Headed Bat (Hypsignathus monstrosus)
If you ask us, it’s hard to find a cuter bat out there than the hammer-headed bat. Okay, we know that this species doesn’t quite look like the bats you might have heard about as a kid, but how do you argue with those Dobby-like eyes and ears?
The hammer-headed bat is actually one of the largest bats in the world with males boating a wingspan of nearly 3.2 ft (1 m). They are found in west-central Africa where they inhabit a region that stretches from Senegal in the north all the way to Angola in the south.
Like most other fruit bats, these critters love, well, fruits. Their snack of choice is the fig, though you’ll occasionally find them attacking chickens when times are tough.
17. Lesser Short-Nosed Fruit Bat (Cynopterus brachyotis)
Featuring a charming fox-like face, the lesser short-nosed fruit bat is a small bat that’s found throughout southern Asia and Oceania. It prefers to live in tropical rainforests where it converts large palm leaves into a makeshift shelter for the night.
As far as their cuteness factor goes, the lesser short-nosed fruit bat is known to carry around its young for more than a month until they’re ready to start fluttering around on their own.
Plus, the male lesser short-nosed fruit bat also has mammary glands, so it’s thought that they also play an active role in rearing young. That’s “dad of the year award” status, if you ask us.
18. Honduran White Bat (Ectophylla alba)
A veritable puff ball disguised as a bat, the Honduran white bat is about as cute as it gets. This aptly-named bat boasts a full coat of white fur, which contrasts wonderfully with its bright orange face, nose, and ears.
Despite their pale appearance, however, the Honduran white bat doesn’t seem to suffer from regular sunburns. In fact, scientists discovered that these bats have a thin black membrane that covers much of their skull to protect them from UV rays.
That being said, these bats aren’t the easiest to find. They generally live in the rainforests of Central America where heliconia plants can be found. During the day, the Honduran white bat will form little clusters of up to 12 individuals and then ball up into the shade of a heliconia leaf until it’s time to get up and hunt at nightfall.
19. Mediterranean Horseshoe Bat (Rhinolophus euryale)
Found throughout the Mediterranean and the Balkans, the Mediterranean horseshoe bat is one of southern Europe’s most common flying mammals. It particularly likes to live in warm caves in mountainous regions where it roosts together with various other bat species.
These bats are medium in size and have greyish-brown fur. What really makes them adorable, though, is their thin, long snout, tiny black eyes, and huge ears, which make them easy enough to spot in a crowd.
Unfortunately, the Mediterranean horseshoe bat is considered to be vulnerable by the IUCN. It seems to be particularly sensitive to disturbance at the hands of humans. The use of pesticides has been linked to declining populations of the species, likely because of the Mediterranean horseshoe bat’s fondness for eating insects.
20. Eastern Red Bat (Lasiurus borealis)
If you live in eastern North and South America, the eastern red bat is one of your resident adorable bat species. This small mammal is usually no more than 4” (10 cm) long, though it can have an impressively long wingspan of up to 13” (33 cm).
The eastern red bat is one of the more unique species in the bat world because it’s a mostly solitary being. With the exception of the mating and migration seasons, it likes to hang out on its own and snooze in the forest.
But, if you think the adult eastern red bat is adorable, you’ll want to check out their babies, too. The newborn eastern red bat actually hangs onto their mom with one of their feet and uses the other to hang onto a perch until they’re strong enough to fly around on their own—how precious!
21. Soprano Pipistrelle (Pipistrellus pygmaeus)
Small but mighty, the soprano pipistrelle is a common bat throughout western Europe, especially in the United Kingdom. It is known to make its roost in homes and rooftops, which provide them with the perfect shelter from the elements.
In addition to being fluffy and adorable, the soprano pipistrelle is a skilled hunter. Its favorite food is small flies, mosquitoes, and midges, so you’ll often see it hunting by waterways around sunset. Oh, and the soprano pipistrelle can actually eat up to 3,000 insects in a single night. What an impressive feat!
22. Big-Eared Woolly Bat (Chrotopterus auritus)
Sporting massive ears and an oh-so fluffy coat, the big-eared wooly bat is a delightful creature that inhabits the tropical forests of southern Mexico, Central America, and South America. It is considered to be one of the largest bats in the western hemisphere.
The big-eared woolly bat, as you might’ve guessed, is the proud owner of a thick furry coat. It tends to have soft, dark fur throughout its body as well as a set of large, oval-shaped ears. Plus, they have a large rostrum that sticks out of the front of their face and looks suspiciously like a nose.
That being said, while the big-eared woolly bat is fairly widely distributed, not much is known about its feeding and mating habits. But, scientists do know that it helps disperse seeds throughout the rainforest, helping the forests stay healthy and strong for generations to come.
23. Pied Bat (Niumbaha superba)
One of the most recently discovered bat species out there, the pied bat (badger bat), is a small critter that’s native to sub-Saharan Africa.
This tiny bat boasts a set of panda-like markings with white and black patterning throughout its body. It was actually first described in the Congo back in the 1930s, but scientists really didn’t know much about it until a researcher caught one in 2013.
To this day, scientists still don’t know much about the pied bat, but they do know that it’s unique enough to warrant the creation of its own genus.
24. Sulawesi Flying Fox (Acerodon celebensis)
Found only on the island of Sulawesi in Indonesia, the Sulawesi flying fox has a chin-pinchingly cute face that’s more reminiscent of a dog than any bat we’ve ever seen.
Also known as the Sulawesi fruit bat, this flying fox eats mostly coconuts and breadfruits, which it finds in and around its preferred mangrove forest habitat. They tend to live in large colonies called “camps” where the baby bats will socialize with one another while their moms leave the camp to forage for fruit.
Unfortunately, they’re currently listed as vulnerable by the IUCN. Part of the population decline for this species is attributed to the fact that they’re hunted as part of the local bushmeat trade, which has led to over-exploitation in some areas.
25. Indian False Vampire Bat (Lyroderma lyra)
Native to much of southern Asia, the Indian false vampire bat is a small flying mammal that inhabits lush forests.
Interestingly, despite its small size, the Indian false vampire bat is actually a carnivore. While it doesn’t suck blood (it’s not a true vampire bat), this species does eat other bats, fish, small types of lizards, and even small birds.
It’s also known to use a number of different hunting strategies to catch its diverse prey, including sitting and waiting for something tasty to walk by.
26. Spectacled Flying Fox (Pteropus conspicillatus)
Found only in northern Australia, the spectacled flying fox is a large bat species that’s known to live throughout mangroves, rainforests, and paperbark forests.
This species is arguably the least common of all of Australia’s flying foxes. However, it has a very distinctive facial marking that looks a whole lot like it happens to be wearing a pair of lightly-colored glasses.
In addition to being fairly rare, the spectacled flying fox is also endangered. It’s thought that human development and predation by both dogs and cats has led to the species’ decline. Additionally, the spectacled flying fox is currently listed as endangered in Queensland, where it was once hunted in droves to stop it from eating fruit crops.
27. Egyptian Fruit Bat (Rousettus aegyptiacus)
What’s cute, cuddly, and has lovely brown eyes? The Egyptian fruit bat, of course.
These small fruit bats are found mainly in Egypt, as their name suggests, but they can also live in parts of the Arabian Peninsula and throughout regions of the Mediterranean. They usually prefer forested areas, but they can also handle a bit of aridity in the desert.
For the most part, the Egyptian fruit bat likes to form colonies, which can range from 20 to 9,000 individuals in size. They’re also one of the relatively few bat species that can use both regular vision and echolocation to find their food of choice, which includes baobab, fig, carob, and sycamore.
28. Indian Flying Fox (Pteropus medius)
Last but not least, the Indian flying fox rounds off our list of the cutest types of bats.
This lovable fella is one of the larger bats as it tips the scales at up to 3 lbs (1.4 kg) when fully grown. In the wild, they are mostly found in India and other parts of south-central Asia where they can live happily in tropical forests and wetlands.
The Indian flying fox is a particularly social bat as it often forms groups of up to 1,000 individuals. They’re also quite a chatty bunch, as they make audible noises to communicate to each other in the roost.
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Types of Bats: What You Need to Know
As we’ve mentioned, there are well over 1,400 species of bats around the world. With so many species out there, we couldn’t possibly discuss them all here.
But, in this section, we’ll introduce you to some bat basics so you can be a veritable chiropterologist (that’s someone who studies bats) and impress all your friends with your bat knowledge.
Let’s get batty!
What Is A Bat?
First things first, what even is a bat?
At their most basic, bats are mammals. The vast majority of bats can fly (the lesser short-tailed bat seems to prefer the ground, though), which makes them unique among their mammal brethren.
Bats have unique wings with human hand-like structures that are held together with a thin membrane known as a patagium. This patagium is actually also found on certain types of squirrels, including the flying squirrels, but it is much more pronounced in bats.
Other than the fact that they’re mammals that can fly, bats are actually a very diverse order of animals. While many species fit into the popular conception of what a bat is (small, black, nocturnal, and carnivorous), there are so many different types of bats out there that it’s hard to make broad generalizations about all 1,400 species.
How Bats Are Classified
With over 1,400 species on Earth, taxonomists likely had one heck of a time trying to classify bat species in an orderly fashion. In fact, scientists are still struggling with their classification system for bats, which has changed quite a bit in recent years.
In general, however, all bats are part of the order Chiroptera. This order is within the class Mammalia (that’s the mammals) and within the phylum Chordata of the kingdom Animalia.
Traditionally, bats were divided up into two suborders: the megabats (Megachiroptera) and the microbats (Microptera). It was generally believed that the megabats were fruit-eating species while the microbats were species that echolocated to hunt their prey.
However, during the early part of the twenty-first century, scientists started to change their classification system for bats. A groundbreaking article in 2001 was perhaps the first to use the new terms Yinpterochiroptera and Yangochiroptera, which are now the preferred system of classifying bats into suborders and genera.
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1. Suborder Yinpterochiroptera
Previously known as the megabats, the suborder Yinpterochiroptera includes six families. Five of these families are what was once considered to be microbats while one family contains all of the so-called megabats.
However, some argue that there’s a seventh family of Yinpterochiroptera, the Rhinonycteridae, but this is sometimes believed to be a sub-family.
Species within Yinpterochiroptera are classified as such based on genetic testing. In fact, some of the bats share very few similar physical characteristics. So, it can be hard to see how these various species are related just from looking at photos or seeing them in person.
The six families of the suborder Yinpterochiroptera are as follows:
1.1 Family Pteropodidae
Sometimes called the fruit bats, the family Pteropodidae contains about 40 genera and 200 individual species. For the most part, species in this family are located in Australia, Oceania, south-central Asia, sub-Saharan Africa, and the southern portion of the Arabian Peninsula.
Members of the family Pteropodidae go by many names, though they are often referred to as “flying foxes” because of their large size. They tend to be nocturnal, scouring the landscape for fruit, pollen, flowers, nectar, and the like.
Unlike many other bats, flying foxes also tend to sleep in exposed places, such as in trees. They’re known to congregate in large groups of up to 500,000 individuals, though some are also much more solitary.
1.2 Family Rhinolophoidea
More commonly referred to as the horseshoe bats, the family Rhinolophoidea contains one species—Rhinolophus—with about 109 species.
These bats have a very complex taxonomical structure so there’s still some debate as to how species in this family might be categorized. In general, they’re medium in size and they often have reddish to brownish fur.
As microbats, species in the family Rhinolophoidea perform echolocation, which is important for their ability to hunt prey. They are found throughout Asia, Australia, and Europe and some species tend to come into frequent contact with humans.
In fact, it’s believed that horseshoe bats have been vectors for various human diseases. Some species are natural vectors for SARS and there are unsubstantiated claims that these bats may have been a host for COVID-19. But, these claims haven’t been proven scientifically as of early 2021.
1.3 Family Craseonycteridae
The smallest of the Yinpterochiroptera families, the family Craseonycteridae contains just one bat species: the Kitti’s hog-nosed bat (Craseonycteris thonglongyai).
Also called the bumblebee bat, this species is found throughout western Thailand and parts of Myanmar where it can be found in limestone caves. It is considered to be the smallest species of bat and, potentially, the world’s smallest mammal.
Kitti’s hog-nosed bats tend to live in colonies of about 100 individuals and they are generally active at night and at dawn. It is considered to be near-threatened, in part because of its limited range.
1.4 Family Hipposideridae
The family Hipposideridae, or the Old World leaf-nosed bats, are a bat family of about 10 genera and more than 70 individual species.
These bats are normally found in tropical and subtropical regions, such as in Australia, Asia, Oceania, and Africa. Most bats within this family have a funky-looking nasal blade that is somewhat horseshoe-shaped. This blade is important for the bats’ echolocation abilities.
Most species within this family live in caves and other secluded areas. Some species are highly vulnerable due to habitat loss and a few species in the family are listed as severely threatened by the IUCN red list.
1.5 Family Rhinopomatidae
One of the more unique families in the suborder Yinpterochiroptera, the family Rhinopomatidae is a collection of about 6 species contained within a single genus, Rhinopoma. These bats, which are sometimes called mouse-tailed bats because of their mouse-like tail, are not closely related to any other bat species and are thus classified as their own family.
Species within the family Rhinopomatidae tend to be quite small and they usually live in deserts and other arid climates. They are mostly found in northern Africa and southern Asia. In fact, they have been found in the Egyptian Pyramids where they live in large colonies with thousands of individuals.
1.6 Family Megadermatidae
The final family in the suborder Yinpterochiroptera, the family Megadermatidae or false vampire bats, are a grouping of five genera with four individual species.
Bats in this family tend to be quite large and they also usually have a large feature called a nose-leaf on their face. While more research is needed on how this organ functions, it’s believed that it plays a role in echolocation.
The false vampire bats live mostly in Australia, southern Asia, and eastern Africa. They got their common name—the false vampire—because it was once believed that these bats fed on blood, which is now known not to be true.
2. Suborder Yangochiroptera
The suborder Yangochiroptera is one of two suborders of bats. This suborder generally contains species that were previously called the “microbats,” with the exception of the five families that are now part of the suborder Yinpterochiroptera.
Like the other suborder of bats, species within Yangochiroptera are grouped together using genetic similarities. As a result, many of the species within this suborder also don’t share many similar physical features.
Within this suborder, there are three superfamilies with a total of 14 families split between them, which are as follows:
2.1 Superfamily Vespertilionoidea
One of the largest superfamilies of bats, the superfamily Vespertilionoidea contains 5 subfamilies, 33 genera, and nearly 300 species.
Technically, all of the bats in the superfamily Vespertilionoidea belong to a single family (also called Vespertilionoidea). But, scientists still consider this to be a superfamily as they expect that some of the subfamilies will be elevated to the status of family in the coming years.
The majority of the bats in this superfamily feed on insects that they catch using echolocation. That being said, the phylogenetic relationships between each of the species aren’t necessarily apparent to the naked eye. Indeed, many of the species in this superfamily are related genetically even though they have very different physical characteristics.
Members of the superfamily Vespertilionoidea live all over the world. They include the majority of bat species in North America, yet they are found on every continent except Antarctica.
2.2 Superfamily Emballonuridae
More commonly referred to as the sheath-tailed or sac-winged bats, the members of the superfamily Emballonuridae are believed to be some of the smallest bats in the world.
This superfamily contains approximately 13 genera with a total of about 51 species. Most of these bats live in tropical areas in Africa, Asia, Australia, and South America, particularly in areas with tropical rainforests.
These bats tend to congregate in large groups and live in caves. Most of them eat insects, which they hunt using echolocation.
2.3 Superfamily Noctilionoidea
Within the superfamily Noctilionoidea, there are about 170 species of bats distributed among 7 different families. These bats are sometimes called leaf-nosed bats because of their large nasal blades, which are thought to aid with echolocation.
Due to the large number of bats within this superfamily, the species in Noctilionoidea are relatively diverse. Some species are herbivores that eat mostly fruit and nectar, though some feed on fish or blood.
Most of the bats in the superfamily Noctilionoidea live in Central and South America, though there are a few species that also live in New Zealand.
It is also worth noting that there is some debate over what families ought to be included within Noctilionoidea. So it is possible that some families will be reassigned to a different superfamily in the future.
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Bat Fun Facts
If you’ve made it this far in our article, congrats! You’re a veritable bat-spotting expert. However, when you’re out and about on your next camping trip, you ought to have a good selection of bat fun facts on hand, just in case you need to show off your batty knowledge to all your friends.
To help you out, here are some of our favorite bat fun facts to jot down before your next outdoor adventure:
1|Bats Are The Only Flying Mammal
Did you know? Bats are the only mammals that can fly.
Yep, you read that right.
Although flying squirrels and sugar gliders might look like they can fly, they’re not actually capable of what’s called “powered flight.” That means that they can’t sustain themselves in the air for more than a few seconds as they glide from place to place. Bats, on the other hand, are extremely agile in the air and some can fly upwards of 100 mph (160 km/h).
2|Some Bats Rely On Echolocation To Hunt And Communicate
Some species of bats are capable of something known as “echolocation.” When using echolocation, bats produce sounds at various frequencies that we humans can’t hear.
When this happens, the sound waves bounce off of other objects and then return to the bat. Once the bat receives some of these sound waves, it can interpret them and get a better idea of its surroundings.
Some bats are even capable of using their echolocation skills to locate their prey and track it during the dead of night. However, it’s also thought that bats use echolocation for their day-to-day communication, so it’s a pretty nifty skill all-around.
3|Not All Bats Are Nocturnal
While most bats are nocturnal, many species actually prefer to hunt during the daytime or around dawn and dusk. In fact, there are plenty of bat species that are fully awake during the daylight hours.
You can often tell if a bat species is mostly nocturnal by looking at where it sleeps. Many nocturnal species prefer to sleep in caves and other dark, gloomy areas because these provide the best protection from predators during the day.
Meanwhile, species, like flying foxes, that like to roost in trees tend to be active during the daytime. These bat species usually have poor echolocation skills and great eyesight, which makes it easier for them to forage for fruit.
4|Bat Guano Is A Fantastic Fertilizer
Have you ever thought about using bat guano to fertilize your garden? Well, it’s worth considering.
Indeed, humans have harvested bat guano for hundreds of years because it’s one of the best natural fertilizers around. These days, bat guano is quite expensive (it’s not exactly the easiest thing to harvest), but it’s great at revitalizing over-worked soils.
5|Bats Are Excellent Pest Controllers
Bats often get a bad reputation for being blood-sucking vampires (most of them aren’t, for the record). But, we humans should actually thank bats for all the great pest-control work that they do without pay.
While the claims that certain bat species can eat up to 1,000 species an hour are a bit over-exaggerated, bats are really great at controlling local insect populations. Since insects are a food of choice for hundreds of bat species, us humans owe a great debt to our trusty pest control experts for keeping the mosquitoes and black flies at bay.
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Here are some of our answers to your most commonly asked questions about bats:
Are Bats Dangerous?
Bats are not generally dangerous in their own right and most want nothing to do with humans. The only time that bats are truly dangerous is if they have rabies, which is fatal to humans. As a result, people should not handle bats unless they are properly trained to do so.
Why Is A Bat A Mammal?
Bats are mammals because they have a number of key mammal features. In particular, bats feed their young with milk from mammary glands, they have hair, a hinged lower jaw, and they are capable of thermoregulation.
Do Bats Drink Blood?
The majority of bats do not drink blood. However, a small group of bats (about 3 species), known as the vampire bats do feed on blood. That being said, these bats generally don’t want anything to do with humans, so there’s no need to be afraid of a Dracula-like situation. For the most part, vampire bats feed on cows, seals, horses, and chickens.
Do Bats Attack Humans?
Bats generally do not attack humans. Most bats are quite skittish around humans and they really don’t want anything to do with us. If they do get close to you, it’s likely out of curiosity or because they’re in the process of hunting for insects or other prey.
What To Do If A Bat Touches You?
If a bat touches you, rabies is likely a concern. Since bats usually have very small teeth, it can be hard to know if one actually bit you or if it simply landed on you and then flew away. If you believe that you came into contact with a bat, you should immediately seek out professional medical help.