Types of Bats
Species in North America
Did you know that there are 45 species of bats in North America? There are about 1000 species in the world, residing on every continent except Antarctica. Contrary to popular belief, bats are not flying mice or rodents. They're actually part of the Chiroptera order, which means “winged hand” in Greek. Bats are also the only mammals that can fly.
The little mammals come in two different types:
- Megachiroptera , which are also known as flying foxes. These bats are large (up to 16 inches long and 3 pounds in weight), sometimes with a wingspan up to 6 feet, and primarily eat fruit and nectar. They are found only in Old World tropical regions.
- Microchiroptera , which includes all bats in North America and 70 percent of all bat species in the world. These bats are different sizes and are insectivorous, also occasionally eating nectar. Three species also consume small amounts of blood (vampire bats).
North American Bats
The primary species of bat you will see flying around your yard is the brown bat. There are two kinds: the big brown bat and the little brown bat. Brown bats roost in manmade structures like barns, and can also be enticed to live in bat houses. They, and their cousin, the little brown bat, feed on many different insects and can actually eat their own weight in mosquitoes in a single night. This makes them extremely beneficial to your garden.
Other North American bat species include:
- Townsend's big-eared bat
- Red bat
- Evening bat
- Silver-haired bat
- Hoary bat
There are many myths surrounding bats because of our cultural fear of them being evil. Actually, bats are very gentle animals and are virtually harmless. On this page, we'll debunk some bat myths so that you can enjoy watching these mammals clear out your insect problem without worry.
- Bats are blind. Actually, bats can see very well. They also use a technique called echolocation to make sure that their flight path is clear and to help them find food. This involves them sending out high-frequency sounds and then listening to the echoes of the sounds as they bounce off objects.
- Bats drink blood. Only three species of bat are sanguivorous, and they're known as vampire bats. However, they prefer to bite large mammals and rarely ever bite humans. All vampire bat species are found only in Latin America.
- Bats carry rabies. Bats are much less likely to carry rabies than dogs, which account for 99 percent of rabies cases.
- Bat guano is poisonous. Although you shouldn't breathe any dust from any animal droppings, guano is no more dangerous than cat or bird droppings.