Bats are usually social creatures. In other words, they live in groups. Unlike other social creatures such as bees and prairie dogs, bats do not make their own dwellings. They generally live in caves.
If you find one flying into a cave, you can be pretty sure there are different bats inside. In certain arenas thousands of bats bunch together on ceilings or walls. In such large colonies scientists often find bats of a single kind sharing a cave with all ones of another species. Smaller bat colonies numbering just 10 or 12 bats may live in a hollow tree.
Caves and hollow trees are not the only places where bats live. Some bats simply roost in trees , hanging like leaves from branches and twigs. Two types of tropical bats make small tents from palm leaves. This type of bat slits the leaf with its teeth, then hangs within the folds.
There are bats living in the pyramids of Egypt and at the orange trees of Australia. In North America and Europe human beings occasionally share a house or a barn using an entire colony of bats rather than know the critters are there. A bat can squeeze through narrow cracks and roost between layers of ceiling and wall.
Most bats are nocturnal. This usually means they are active only at night. Only a few sorts of bats venture out from bright sunshine. Bats are most likely nighttime creatures for the exact reasons that many small mammals are. A small animal is in less danger in the night. In the daytime there is the constant danger of being consumed by larger animals that sleep at night. Also, at night bats may catch insects with less competition from birds.
Some eat only fruit. Some eat both insects and fruit. A couple of sorts of bats eat other things-meat , fish, and even flower nectar.
In Canada and the United States the most recognizable bats are insect eaters, even though there are nectar-feeding bats in Arizona and California. Possibly the most best-known fruit bats are the huge flying foxes. In Australia these giant bats have become a serious annoyance to fruit growers. They swarm over the orchards, devouring fruit during the nighttime and roosting in the trees by day.
In India one kind of bat has been seen eating mice, birds, and lizards. When captured, the big spear-nosed bats of tropical America will consume nearly anything. They’ve been fed bananas, horsemeat, liver, and hamburger. They will even eat smaller nerves.
The bats with the most unusual diets are observed from the tropics. Noctilio bats of South and Middle America eat fishes. They skim over a lake or pond, yanking their sharp claws through the water to catch little fishes swimming near the surface. Another type of jungle bats, the small hummingbird bats, eat chiefly the pollen and nectar of flowers.
Probably the most famous tropical bats are the vampires, found only in South and Middle America. – The vampire bat has inspired legends, superstitions, and terror tales-all of these false. A vampire bat does sting other creatures and drinks their blood. But, in contrast to the legends, it does not drain its own victims. A vampire bat may bite a horse, cow, or goat-or a man-without being detected. Its sharp teeth create a shallow cut. Then the bat simply laps up a little amount of blood and flies off. The chief threat to the sufferer is infect-ion. Vampire bats, in addition to several different species, are famous earners of rabies.