Bats are usually social creatures. Contrary to other social creatures such as bees and prairie dogs, bats don’t make their own dwellings. They generally live in caves.
If you find one flying right into a cave, then you can be pretty sure there are other bats inside. In certain caves thousands of bats crowd together on walls or ceilings. In such big colonies scientists often detect bats of one form sharing a cave with all ones of another species. Smaller bat colonies numbering only 10 or 12 bats can dwell in a hollow tree.
Caves and hollow trees aren’t the only areas where bats live. Some anglers merely roost in trees hanging like leaves out of branches and twigs. Two kinds of tropical bats create small tents out of palm leaves. Such a 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 sometimes talk about a house or a barn with a whole colony of bats rather than know the animals are there. A bat can squeeze through narrow cracks and roost between layers of wall and ceiling.
This usually means that they are active only at nighttime. They sleep in the daytime and come out at night to find food. Just a few kinds of bats venture out in bright sunlight. Bats are most likely nighttime creatures for the exact reasons that many small creatures are. A little animal is in less danger at night. In the daytime there’s the constant threat of being consumed by bigger animals that sleep through the night. Additionally, at night bats can catch insects with less competition from birds.
Most bats live on insects alone. Some eat only fruit. Some eat both fruit and insects. A few kinds of rodents eat other things-meat , fish, and even flower nectar.
In Canada and the United States the most recognizable bats are insect eaters, though there are nectar-feeding bats in Arizona and California. Possibly the most best-known fruit bats would be the huge flying foxes. They swarm on the orchards, devouring fruit during the nighttime and roosting in the trees by day.
In India one sort of bat was seen eating birds, rodents, and lizards. When captured, the large spear-nosed bats of tropical America will consume almost anything. They have been fed bananas, horsemeat, liver, and hamburger. They will even eat smaller nerves.
The bats having the most unusual diets are found in the tropics. Noctilio bats of South and Middle America eat fishes. They skim over a lake or pond, dragging their sharp claws through the water to catch small fishes swimming near the surface. Another type of jungle bats, the tiny hummingbird bats, eat mostly the pollen and nectar of blossoms.
Probably the most famous tropical bats are the vampires, located only in South and Middle America. A vampire bat does sting other creatures and drinks their blood. But, in contrast to the legends, it does not drain its victims. A vampire bat could sting a horse, cow, or goat-or a man-without being detected. Its sharp teeth make a shallow cut. Then the bat only laps up a small quantity of blood and flies away. The chief danger to the sufferer is infect-ion. Vampire bats, in addition to several other species, are known earners of rabies.