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insects —

70%

of

all bats

are

insectivorous.

All

bats

living in

the

  • Many garden pests can hear bats and will avoid areas where bats are looking for a meal.

a white patch on each shoulder and the rump. Other kinds of bats have patterns so bright they are called butterfly bats. Some bats have long angora-like fur varying in color from red to black and white. The bumblebee bat of Thailand weighs less than a penny. Some of the large bats known as flying foxes such as

Indonesia have wingspans Flying foxes live only in

tropical and subtropical areas Australia and eat primarily

including fruit and

nectar. Other species of carnivorous, preying on mice, and birds. The fabled

bats are fish, frogs, vampire bats

feed on blood. There vampire bats and America. However,

are only 3 kinds of all live in Latin most bats feed on

those

living in

up to

6 feet.

living

along

the

Texas-Arizona

border.

instance, one little brown bat can catch

600 mosquitoes or more an hour.

United except

States and Canada eat insects, 3 species of nectar-feeding bats

Because they consume quantities of

are a For

“bugs” natural

such as mosquitoes, bats form of insect control.

  • Desert ecosystems rely on nectar-feeding bats to pollinate giant cacti, including the organ pipe and saguaro of Arizona.

  • Agricultural plants from bananas to cashews, dates, and figs rely on bats for pollination and seed dispersal.

Despite bats’ many benefits including pollination and insect control, their

are declining

nearly

More than

half of

populations everywhere.

American bats species are considered endangered due to disturbance of roosting bats in caves, loss of habitat

2

including forested areas, inappropriate use of pesticides.

and

  • Loss of bats destabilizes ecosystems and can cause people to increase their use of chemicals to control insects. Excessive use of chemicals can be harmful to human health and harmful to wildlife.

What a Bat Really Is

Like humans, bats

are mammals.

Bats are

the only mammals that actually

fly, flapping

their wings to propel them in flight. Some mammals, such as flying squirrels, only glide rather than fly. Because bats are unique they are classified in their own special order of mammals, called Chiroptera. Chiroptera means “hand-wing,” referring to how the finger bones of a bat support its wings. The wings of a bat are actually thin membranes of skin that stretch between the fingers of the front leg and extend to the hind legs and tail. The bat’s

enlongated similar to providing

finger bones serve a purpose struts on an airplane wing, support and maneuverability

during wings

flight. When a bat rests, it folds its alongside its body to protect the

delicate

finger

bones

and

wing

membranes.

Insect-eating Bats

Most North American bats are insectivorous.

Insect-eating foraging on insects from from plants.

bats capture their prey by

the wing, catching a perch, or collecting

flying insects

Some

bats

seize

insects

with

their mouths. Other bats use their wings or tail membrane to trap prey. Bats may disable large insects with a quick bite, then envelop the insect meal in a basket formed by the bat’s wings and tail, and carry the insect to a

perch chew A bat

for eating. Bats have sharp teeth to their food into tiny, digestible pieces. may consume nearly 50 percent of its

body

weight

in

insects

during

just

one

night.

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