Bats are chiroptera. These generally nocturnal and flying mammals constitute the largest family after rodents.
Characteristics of bats
Long persecuted for their association with Dracula, these small nocturnal mammals captivate as much as they repel. Their way of life and their habits are so striking that they are adored by certain civilizations. They sleep on average 20 hours a day, hanging by their legs, head down and wrapped in their wings.
Bats are the only mammals that practice active flight. Their wings are actually a membrane of skin that connects their body to their fingers. Although sighted, they often move by echolocation, that is to say they emit ultrasound to find their way by capturing their echo. It is insectivorous species that most often use this technique. This is how they are able to locate their food.
Megabats have lost their ability to use their sonar. This is the case for Pteropus and fruit bats which have a very developed sense of smell and exceptionally sharp eyesight. Note that some bats also have an excellent sense of direction, like migratory birds. They use magnetite, a magnetic mineral, to orient themselves using the planet’s magnetic fields.
Contrary to popular belief, not all bats are nocturnal animals. Those of the megabat family are active at dusk, but do not move at night. Microbats, on the other hand, are rather nocturnal and use echolocation. The reason for this nighttime activity is due to overheating from daytime movements, because their wings are fragile. On the other hand, it also costs them in terms of metabolic functioning.
The different species of bats
Bats have 1,400 different species, grouped into 175 genera, which are themselves divided into 20 families. To simplify the classification, two suborders have been assigned.
They are distinguished by their small eyes and large ears. There are 17 families, or 146 genera and no less than 814 species. They are quite small and they move using echolocation. Microbats have a very varied diet, but favor small insects.
Conversely, these bats have big eyes and small ears. They form only one family comprising 41 different genera and 170 species. They are also larger, like fruit bats. Megabats consume fruits, flowers and pollen.
Recently, two new sub-orders have been created:
the Yinpterochiroptera which includes the Crasenonycteridae, the Hypposideridae, the Megadermatidae, the Rhinopomatidae and the Rhinolophidae; the Yangchiroptera which includes all the other species of megabats. The disappearance of bats
For several years, we have been witnessing a more or less significant decline in bats. This is particularly observed in anthropogenic areas or those affected by deforestation. Some species have even locally disappeared. In France, the authorities have decided to protect bats. Other countries offer dining plans.