Hello, my name is Bartley. I am a bat. Please don't be afraid of me. I am special too, just like you! Maybe if I tell you a little bit about us, you will feel more comfortable.
Bats are mammals just like humans are, but we are classified in our own order (group name) which is Chiroptera. This word means hand wing. We are warm-blooded like humans and need food to keep our bodies warm too. Bats want somewhere sheltered to sleep and since we sleep during the day, we want it nice and dark too. When we are babies, our mothers feed us milk just like human mothers do. And our parents look after us when we are little until we are able to take care of ourselves.
We eat all sorts of things and many of the things we eat can help out humans in different ways. Bats eat fruit, pollen, nectar, insects, small animals, other bats, and blood. Some small bats such as the Mouse-Eared Bats are very skilled at catching insects. These bats have been said to have the ability to catch up to 600 mosquitoes in an hour. That could be very helpful at your next picnic wouldn't you say?
People always say: "so and so is blind as a bat", I do not know why because we can see just fine. We cannot see in the dark so well, so that is why we use the echo of our voices to create a picture of where things are. This is called echolocation. This way we can safely dart all around and catch all those yummy insects flying around. We are really good at flying. Humans think we look like we do not know where we are going. During the time they have spent thinking that, we have probably eaten 50 insects. I have also heard people screaming that I will get caught in their hair while they are running away from me. Bats are really good at flying and we would never make the mistake of flying too close to a human; much less getting caught in their hair, so fear not.
The bats that use echolocation have really big ears, but don't tease us. This is all part of our really cool ability to fly around so perfectly in the dark. These bats also have a big nose too. No fair huh? Well, this big nose is called a noseleaf. A noseleaf is a fleshy leaf shaped structure around our noses that helps direct the sounds we make to locate things in the dark. So having big ears and a big nose can come in handy after all. If someone picks on your ears or nose just tell them you use them for echolocation, chances are they will be amazed and confused and leave you alone. If not come tell me and I will get caught in their hair. Just kidding, remember we don't do that.
Flying takes a lot of energy, so we have to eat a lot to keep up. We eat up to one third of our body weight a day. We usually have our little sleeping area in one place and then we know of a really buggy area in another place and we will travel a many miles to get there if we have to. We gotta do what we gotta do to put dinner in our bellies!
Bats prepare to have babies in the fall or winter, but many bats hibernate in the winter. Hibernating wears us down a lot because we are not eating. We lose most of our storage of fat, so our bodies are weak when we wake up for the spring. The female's body does this cool thing to prevent the pregnancy from happening until the time is right. So, when the momma bat is ready the egg will be fertilized and a little tiny baby bat will begin to grow in her belly. A bat pregnancy is only two or three months, and most are born during the months of May and June. Most momma bats only have one pup. There are some kinds of bats that frequently have twins and other kinds that can have up to four pups. Baby bats are usually kept all together in a nursery colony. This helps keep all the little bats warm while momma is out gathering food. The mother comes back and calls out to her pup and listens for their call so she can find them. The large number of baby bats in there causes the cave to get kind of like an incubator warming up to temperatures of 100 degrees. Just what a furless baby bat likes, nice and warm.