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Uploaded:2015-10-29
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You don’t have to be Batman to think bats are awesome! Learn some fun facts about these furry flying mammals.
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SOURCES:
http://www.defenders.org/bats/bats

http://animals.howstuffworks.com/mammals/bat2.htm

http://www.si.edu/Encyclopedia_SI/nmnh/batfacts.htm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/nature/life/Bat

http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/echolocation.html
Jessi: I’m thinking of an animal. It’s small, and furry. It can be pretty cute. And it flies around at night. Can you guess what animal it is? That’s right! I’m thinking about bats!

Some people think bats are scary. Maybe because they only come out at night. Or maybe because sometimes they live in dark places. Or maybe it’s because some species of bats, called vampire bats, survive by drinking blood. But you probably won’t ever run into a vampire bat. Only three species of bat are blood drinkers. The rest of them, over 1,200 species, eat fruit, nectar, bugs, and other small animals.

If you ask us, bats are totally awesome! Here are just three of our favorite things about them! To start, some bats can hear their way in the dark! That’s because they don’t rely on their eyes, like we do. Instead, these bats use sound to find their way around.

Have you ever yelled into a big empty room, or a canyon, and heard your own voice shout back at you? That’s called an echo. The sound of your voice moves across the room, to the walls, and then bounces back to your ears. And as a bat flies through the night, it does something really similar. It makes a sound, and then carefully listens for the echo. And the way the echo comes back can tell the bat a lot about what’s around it.

This special skill is called echolocation. If the echo comes back quickly, that means there must be something pretty close to it,because the sound only traveled a short way before bouncing back. But if the echo takes a long time for the sound to bounce back, then the bat knows that the object is further away. Bats can tell not only how far away something is, but also how big it is, and how fast it’s moving, all from using echolocation! And since bats are constantly using echolocation to figure out the world around them, you’ll often see them flying around with their mouths open, to keep making sounds to bounce back.

Another thing we like about bats? They really like to hang out! Bats hang upside down in quiet, dark, hidden places like the roof of a cave or the underside of a bridge. But how? When I hang upside down from the monkey bars, after a while I start to feel like my head’s going to explode!

Bats can hang for a long time, because their bodies are built for life upside down! The little pathways in their bodies that blood moves through, called arteries, have special valves in them that only let blood through one way. As the bat’s heart beats, the blood has to keep moving through its body in just one direction. That keeps the blood from getting stuck in the bat’s head when it’s hanging upside down. That’s a pretty neat trick.

But you know another thing that’s easy to like about bats? They make really great moms. Bats usually have one baby, called a pup, in a year. At the beginning of a pup’s life, it clings to its mother’s belly all the time, while the mom wraps her wings around it. Maybe we should stop calling good snuggles “bear hugs” and start calling them “bat hugs”!

And thousands of moms and their pups can live together in a huge group, called a nursery. Even when it’s cold outside, the nursery stays warm, because of all those bats hanging close together. Plus, when mom needs to go out to find food, she can just drop her baby off at the nursery with the other moms and pups.

When she comes back, you might think it’d be hard to find her baby again. I mean, there are thousands of pups that look just like hers! But bats and their pups can recognize each other by their smells and their voices. So when a pup calls out, the mom can fly right to it It would be like trying to find your family in the middle of a crowded amusement park, except all of the other kids at the park are calling out for their parents, too!

So what do you think? Aren’t bats scary-cool? They have super sensing abilities, they can hang out upside down, and they’re marvelous moms. Do you have a question about animals, or anything else, that you’d like to learn more about? Get help from a parent, and leave a comment below or email us at kids@thescishow.com, and we’ll see you next time!

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