Want to celebrate our fabulous nocturnal flying animal, the bat, but don’t want to wait until Halloween? You’re in luck because August 27 is International Bat Night. Before the celebrations begin, let’s learn about bats and what makes them so special.
Bats and birds are the only two groups of warm-blooded animals capable of flight. There are some animals like flying squirrels or sugar gliders that seem to fly but can only glide from one tree to another. They cannot fly like bats and birds.
Despite the shared ability to fly, bats and birds are different. Bats are warm-blooded, have fur, and give birth to live young instead of laying eggs. These qualities place bats in the category of mammals; humans are also in this group. Bats are the only mammals that can fly. Birds, on the other hand, are so unique with their feathers and ability to lay eggs that they are classified in a group of their own.
Bat wings are also different from bird wings. Bird wings have a bone structure similar to that of our arms. If you wave your arms like a bird, you feel stiff because you can only bend your arm in places. Bat wings are most similar in structure to our hands. Due to these extra finger-like bones, bats’ wings are much more flexible, making them very agile fliers.
Why do they need this extra agility during flight? Their prey, insects, are also great fliers. Fortunately, bats are built for the challenge and can eat up to a third of their body weight in insects each night. By keeping insect populations in check, bats are extremely beneficial to humans.
In our area, you are likely to see a few types of bats, including the evening bat, the great brown bat, and the eastern red bat. The evening bat has rich brown fur and lives in forest habitats. The Big Brown Bat can be found almost anywhere in the US and has tan-colored fur with darker wings, ears, and snout. The eastern red bat is a reddish-brown bat that lives in trees.
You can celebrate International Bat Night by helping bats in your area. Because bats are nocturnal, turning off unnecessary lights can help bats find their way. If bats do manage to get into your home or attic, find ways to safely remove them. Lastly, avoid using pesticides in your garden and leave the insect hunting to the bats.