Bats

Begin with a class discussion on bats.

Explain that today we are going to learn about bats.

Bats and Humans
A very popular myth is that bats often become entangled in long hair. Recorded instances of this are very rare. One possible explanation is that bats swoop over people that are being followed by swarms of insects at dusk.

Bats are not harmful
A popular misconception is that bats are hazardous to health. Bats are not a health hazard unlike rodents. They will not bite unless they are handled roughly. In fact bats are very beneficial to the environment due to the quantity of insects they consume.

Bats are not mice with wings
Another popular myth is that bats are actually mice with wings. Bats are unique, as they are the only mammals that can fly.

Bats are not blind
Bats are not blind despite the saying as blind as a bat. All bats have eyes and use their poor eyesight to recognise landmarks. However they are not highly developed and they do not possess colour vision. Scientists have proven that bats don’t use their eyes when hunting by blindfolding them. Their flight was unaffected however when their ears were covered they continued bumping into obstacles.

Vampire Bats
These are found in Central and South America. Vampire bats bite other animals and drink their blood but they do not drain it. The main danger is infection.
Vampire bats are known to spread rabies.

Bats are the only mammals that fly. They are small measuring between 35mm and 64 mm and weighing between 8g and 20grams.
Most bats sleep during the day and come out at night. They are called nocturnal animals. They catch insects, flies, beetles, gnats and moths – up to 3,000 in one night.

Bats live on roosts – they do not build nests. They live in groups/colonies. They use roof spaces of buildings or hollow trees in summer. In winter they may hibernate in ruins or in caves. They survive by building up an extra store of fat before hibernating between October and March. They sleep hanging upside down by their sharp toes. The baby bats are born in June/July. It is fully grown by a month. In six/eight weeks it is independent enough to fly on its own hunting trips.

Due to their poor eyesight they find way with sound – echolocation. They send out signals – high-pitched squeaks that bounce off anything in the area. Different items make different echoes. These echoes contain information on the shape, size and speed of the object. Humans cannot hear these ultrasonic sounds as they are beyond our range of hearing.

Bats in Ireland
Seven species of bats are known in Ireland –

Bats are protected under Irish law and it is an offence to kill, disturb or handle them.

Bat Crossword