The bat: an animal to rediscover during your summer evenings

Nature never ceases to surprise us and it is sometimes the animals that convey the worst clichés that turn out to be the most fascinating! This is particularly the case of the bat, this small mammal with impressive capacities and oh so useful, which is far from deserving a bad reputation! Moreover, thanks to these 10 surprising facts about the bat, you will not see this nocturnal animal in the same way when you come across them during your summer evenings!

#1 She flies better than a bird

You may not know it, but the bat is the only mammal in the world capable of actively fly ! Unlike other animals of this class (like the flying squirrel, which practices gliding flight), the bat can fly fast (up to 135 km/h) and for a long time. She rarely lands on the ground, where she moves awkwardly.

Thanks to its wings formed of a flexible diaphragm and able to act independently of each other, this chiroptera (literally “winged hand”) has a much more agile, acrobatic and precise flight than that of birds… It is not for nothing that it inspired pioneering aviation engineers, such as the Frenchman Clément Ader!

#2 She likes to eat bugs

Let us be reassured right away! The bat is far from turning into vampire after dark! Only three species native to Central and South America (common vampire, hairy-legged vampire and white-winged vampire) are hematophagous and therefore feed on the blood of other animals when the latter are asleep.

In our regions, the bat is mainly insectivorous, which also makes it a formidable ally for the gardener. Flies, moths, beetles… No insect can resist her, not even mosquitoes, which she is able to swallow every night at the rate of 500 per hour!

To go further, discover our article: These 6 useful little animals in the garden

#3 She’s not as quiet as you think!

Did you think the bat was rather quiet? Nay! In reality, this small nocturnal animal, whose vision is not the primary quality, locates and hunts in the dark using a very precise ultrasound system, which is called echolocation !

Concretely, this technique consists in emitting a sound, which ricochets against an object or a prey and which then returns an echo, giving information on the size of this element and the distance at which it is.

Did you know ? Echolocation is also used by other animals, such as certain cetaceans such as the dolphin, and we are also capable of it ourselves, by clicking our tongues! All we have to do now is practice…

#4 She doesn’t need a cozy bed!

Here’s a question you’ve probably asked yourself before. Why do bats sleep upside down? »

If it would not occur to us to adopt this uncomfortable position to rest, the latter is nevertheless a great way for the bat to quickly escape from its predators. Indeed, by sleeping upside down, the bat can fly away without gaining momentum, but quite simply by letting itself fall!

As for the duvet and the pillow, so many useless frills for this animal, which is simply sleeping wrapped in his wingsto conserve energy!

The bat is also part of our Top 10 animals that love to sleep

#5 Some of them have suction cups

Thanks to a tendon attached to the base of their toe and blocking the claws under the effect of their weight, these bats don’t actually have to make any effort to sleep upside down!

Another feature: the circulatory system of the bat is perfectly adapted to this position and is equipped with valves, in order to prevent blood from accumulating in the head.

Good to know : Some species of chiroptera, such as Thyroptera tricolor of Central and South America, but also the Myzopoda auritaa species endemic to eastern Madagascar, show suction cups at the base of the thumbs and on the ankles, which allow them to attach to smooth surfaces. They then rest at the bottom of young leaves rolled up in a cone, head up!

#6 Her fertilization is delayed

Admittedly, the bat is not a fan of large families since it only gives birth to one or two small at the beginning of summer (the most favorable period in terms of food resources).

However, another of its originalities lies in its delayed fertilization. Thus, although the mating of chiroptera takes place in the autumn season, the semen of the male is kept by the female throughout the winter and fertilization only takes place in the spring. Decidedly, the bat still has many secrets to reveal to us!

#7 She can survive freezing temperatures

Better not to come across a bat in winter : it would immediately make you want to put on a hat and a pair of gloves to warm up!

Hibernating in a rather humid place so as not to dry out its wings, such as in a cave, a barn or even a tunnel, this mammal can indeed withstand freezing temperatures and even be covered in frost, without fear of catching a cold! His secret? Live on its fat stores accumulated during the summer (up to 1/3 of its weight) and shutting down most of its functions…except its breathing (one every three minutes!)

Advice : If you find a bat hibernating, do not disturb it and limit the passages around it.

Also find our Top 5 animals that resist the most cold

#8 She has 1400 “cousins” around the world

Did you know ? The bat family includes nearly 1,400 species and many more are yet to be discovered! It is also the largest group of mammals in the world, after rodents!

In France, there are about 34 species, mainly insectivorous, including: common serotine (frequent in attics), horseshoe bats, noctules, pipistrelle (the smallest), eared bats, or murines. The largest bat in the world being the Philippine flying foxwhose wingspan is about 1.50 m, the size of a 12-year-old child!

#9 It symbolizes happiness in some countries

Nailed to the doors of peasants to ward off bad luck until the 19th century, often forming part of the pharmacopoeia of witches, considered aggressive, a carrier of disease, or even a symbol of obscurantism and ignorance in the Age of Enlightenment, the bald – mouse has long been considered a scary animal, ominous sign in France.

Today its vital role within biodiversity is fortunately recognized and it is even sometimes sacred elsewhere in the worldas in West Africa, Australia, or China, where it is a symbol of happiness and longevity!

#10 It is a species protected by law

So, whether you like bats or not, bats are now strictly protected by law. Destroying these small mammals, moving them, capturing them, or damaging their habitats, is thus strictly prohibited on our territory and can be punished by one year’s imprisonment and a fine of €15,000.

A bat has entered your kitchen, your living room or your bedroom? Do not panic ! Start by turning off the lights, opening the windows, leaving the room and just having patience. Finally, if it has taken up residence in your attic, contact the association of the network SOS-Chiroptera closest to you, who will be able to help you!

To go further, it is possible to attract bats to the garden by multiplying the varieties of flowers, trees and shrubs, which attract insects. Also install a bat box near your house, preferably in a sunny place and at a height of at least 3 meters! Last golden rule: do not disturb your little chiroptera and impose a curfew on your cat, which is unfortunately one of its predators!