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The word "animal" comes from the Latin word animale, neuter of animalis, and is derived from anima, meaning vital breath or soul. In everyday colloquial usage, the word usually refers to non-human animals. The biological definition of the word refers to all members of the Kingdom Animalia. Therefore, when the word "animal" is used in a biological context, humans are included.
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About Bats / Chiroptera

Posted by WishbonE at 2:18 AM

Thursday, September 11, 2008

About Bats

Bats are special, they are the only mammals just like us (bats are warm blooded, nurse their babies with milk and they have fur) but are capable to fly. Several mammals like flying squirrels glide but cannot stay in the air for long like bats can, flying squirrels jump from high in a tree glide through the air like a kite unlike bats who flap their wings and fly like a bird. Though sometimes called "flying rodents", "flying mice," or even mistaken for insects and birds, bats are not, in fact, any of these things. Bats belong to the order of Chiroptera, the word Chiroptera comes from the Greek words cheir "hand" and pteron "wing," as the structure of the open wing is very similar to an outspread human hand with a membrane (patagium) between the fingers that also stretches between hand and body. Bats are about over 900 species living in the world and making up over 20% of all mammals. About 70 percent of bats are insectivores. Most of the rest are frugivores, with a few species being carnivorous. Bats are present throughout most of the world.

Bats perform a vital ecological role by pollinating some flowers, and also have an important role in seed dispersal; indeed, many tropical plants are entirely dependent on bats. This role explains environmental concerns when a bat is introduced in a new setting. Bats range in size from the Kitti's Hog-nosed Bat measuring 29–33 millimetres (1.14–1.30 in) in length and 2 grams (0.07 oz) in mass), to the Giant golden-crowned flying fox with a wing span of at least 1.5 m or 5 ft and weighs approximately 1.2 kg or 3 lbs. Bat wings are made of two thin layers of skin stretched over the bat's arm and fingers. Bats have a thumb and four fingers, just like people. The bat's fingers are very long compared to its body. If we had fingers like a bat, they would be longer than our legs! When bats fly, they don't just flap up and down. If you watch them closely, it almost looks like they're pulling themselves through the air -- the movement is similar to the butterfly stroke in swimming. Bats use their wings for more than just flying. They can wrap their wings around insects or fruit to hold it while eating.

Bats are classified between two sub orders, the Megachiroptera (Megabats) and the Microchiroptera (Microbats/echolocating bats). Megabats eat fruit, nectar or pollen while microbats eat insects, blood (small quantities of the blood of animals), small mammals, and fish. While megabats have a well-developed visual cortex and show good visual acuity, microbats rely on echolocation for navigation and finding prey. Although some of these bats are pests to people who own orchards, they play an important roll in nature. The fruit bats spread the seeds of the fruit they eat -- they are responsible for scattering up to 95% of the seeds needed for new trees in tropical rain forests. There are also a number of bats who eat insects, fish, frogs and small animals. Meat eating bats fly out at night (they are "nocturnal") to hunt for their food when many of the other predators are fast asleep. Vampire bats prey mainly on cows, horses and other large mammals. They make a shallow wound with their razor-sharp teeth then they lick up the blood. Each bat only drinks about an ounce of blood each night.

Bats feed at night (they are "nocturnal") and spend the day sleeping in caves or in tree tops, hang upside down from their roosts to sleep. The place where a bat sleeps is called its "roost". Although some bats roost in groups of only one or two, for the most part bats are very sociable animals. They usually sleep together in huge groups. The largest bat colony in the world is in Bracken Cave, Texas. During the summer, this cave is home to as many as 20 MILLION Mexican free-tailed bats.


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