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Beautiful Bats - Creatures of the Night

Updated on January 9, 2017

Flying Foxes

Gray Headed Flying Foxes.
Gray Headed Flying Foxes. | Source

Nightfall Brings Bats

Bats are a fascinating animal, sort of halfway between a bird and a small mammal. I've always liked them. There are many varieties around the world, but I'm going to concentrate on our Australian animals here.

Bats are creatures of the night, and can be seen coming out of their roosts at nightfall, often in their thousands. Many bats roost in caves when they are available, but trees will do just as well.

A flock of bats can be extremely noisy, squabbling, flapping their wings, and just chatting. Walking under a colony of bats during the daytime can be somewhat disconcerting, as they defecate from above. The smell in a roosting area can be dreadful. Fortunately, these animals are fairly nomadic as a rule, and go where the food is to be found. They have sometimes to be removed from urban areas, due to the damage to trees and gardens.

Bats at dusk.
Bats at dusk. | Source

Gray Headed Flying Foxes

You can see a photo of these animals in the introduction image. Grey headed flying foxes are also known as fruit bats. Their Latin name is Pteropus poliocephalus, and they are found in Australia. This bat is one of the largest in the world. It has a collar of reddish fur all around its neck, and is the only bat to have this.

These bats are usually seen on the East coast of Australia, and move around depending on the availability of food.

There is some worry about these bats, and others, being carriers of rabies and other infections diseases, so they aren't popular with everyone.

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Microbat. | Source

Megabats and Microbats

Bats come in two sizes megabats, and microbats. We have both in Australia, and probably the best known are the flying foxes, or fruit bats, which are megabats. Strangely, some megabats are smaller than some microbats!

Australia has six families of microbats, containing 58 species! I was really surprised to learn this, as I didn't know there were so many types. Some of these bats weigh as little as 2 grams, while the larger ones can be 150 grams or even a little more.

Microbats may scare many people, but they are a really useful animal, catching and eating half their body weight of insects each night. These are the bats which use echo-location to find their prey.

The photo above is of an unidentified microbat, and you can see how tiny it is by comparison with the hand.

My bat collection.
My bat collection. | Source

Bats In The Home

Well, no, not really! I just have a few toy bats flying on the wall. They've been collected over the years, and they have to live somewhere, so why not use them for d├ęcor? They do fill an empty space above the TV.

Fun Express Halloween Hanging Bats - 3 Pieces
Fun Express Halloween Hanging Bats - 3 Pieces

Get ready for Halloween with these hanging bats. Put them over your doorway or in your house.


Bats Roosting

Flying foxes roosting
Flying foxes roosting | Source

Bats En Masse

Bats tend to congregate in very large numbers, and this can cause a lot of damage to the trees they choose to roost in. They can also decimate fruit crops, which doesn't make them very popular with farmers.

Sometimes there may be over a million of these animals in one place. A few years ago, I visited Mataranka, in the Northern Territory of Australia, a very pretty spot with a natural spring. On this particular occasion, it wasn't that pretty, or even very pleasant.

There were bats everywhere, in the trees, on the ground, squabbling, flying, leaving droppings, and doing everything else that bats do during the day. It was quite smelly too!

There is a river nearby, and many fruit trees along the riverbank, which is why the bats were there in such numbers.

That particular flock was around the spring, and along the river bank, and was estimated to be over a million in size. The trees were in fruit, which is why they were there. Oh, yes, it was very noisy as well - have you ever been near that many bats? Even during the day, there were plenty of them awake and squeaking. Needless to say, I didn't have a swim in the spring on that occasion.

Nightfall Brings The Bats Out To Hunt

Bats hunting.
Bats hunting. | Source

Bats In My Garden At Nightfall

Since I have a few fruit trees in my garden, the fruit bats make it a habit to call in when the fruit is ripening. Sometimes, I'm lucky to get any at all.

One dark evening, I came home, and decided to check on something in the garden, and walked down the path past the olive tree. Of course, I didn't put any lights on, as I know the path well.

As I passed under the olive tree, a huge shape shot out of the tree, and flapped away at high speed, giving me somewhat of a fright! The noise they make with their wings when taking off is surprising, as is their size at close quarters. This flying fox must have been within 12 inches of my head.

These animals can weigh up to 1 kg (2.2 lbs) and can have a wingspan of up to 1 metre (3'3"). Quite often, in warmer weather, they can be seen flying over my suburb, and I always enjoy seeing them.

Flying Fox, or Fruit Bat

Flying Fox.
Flying Fox. | Source
America's Neighborhood Bats: Understanding and Learning to Live in Harmony with Them
America's Neighborhood Bats: Understanding and Learning to Live in Harmony with Them

How to live with bats in your area. They're really not scary at all!


Fijian Flying Foxes

Fijian fruit bat.
Fijian fruit bat. | Source

Fijian Flying Foxes

I took this photo of a couple of Fijian flying foxes at Kula Eco Park, Fiji. They are one of the few native mammals on the islands.

All rights reserved, thanks.

The Bat Comment Cave

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    • Snakesmum profile image

      Jean DAndrea 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      So long as you're not bitten, you'll be fine! Thanks for visiting.

    • Happy Moment profile image

      James 2 years ago from The Eastern Bypass

      I hear that it is because they are nocturnal. They do their hunting at night. I don't like being close to them because I hear that they are the greatest reservoirs of diseases like Ebola

    • Snakesmum profile image

      Jean DAndrea 3 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      Have to admit to a soft spot for bats. I've always looked for them at night. and as it's fruit season here, there are quite a lot around at the moment. Thanks for visiting.

    • pstraubie48 profile image

      Patricia Scott 3 years ago from sunny Florida

      Very interesting and many things I did not know. I admit that I have never been a huge fan of them but my Momma always told us how important they were in our yards when I was a wee bit of a girl.

      Angels are on the way to you this morning. ps

    • Felicitas profile image

      Felicitas 4 years ago

      I love this lens. Love bats, although I've only seen one in my life, several years ago. I find them very enchanting, though. Magical creatures. I had no idea that they could get so large or that there are so many species.

    • Meganhere profile image

      Meganhere 4 years ago

      I've always liked bats too. Nice lens.

    • profile image

      RuralFloridaLiving 4 years ago

      Bats are fascinating creatures. Love to see them and love to read about them too. Great article!

    • Pat Goltz profile image

      Pat Goltz 4 years ago

      I have seen bats flying in the evening any number of times, and have even caught a few fuzzy pictures. They might startle me, but I am not afraid of them. I know they carry rabies (at least some do), but I don't consider them much of a danger. There are bat boxes in my favorite birding place. They help keep the mosquitoes under control, and together with the biological controls also used, have kept the population under such good control that I have only seen a mosquito twice (having been bitten once) in many hours of summertime birding there.

    • FrancesWrites profile image

      FrancesWrites 4 years ago

      I live in an evening flight path for one of our cities bat colonies, and the silhouette of them against the darkening sky is somehow very dramatic. The whoosh the leather wings make is distinctive and on a very quiet night, you can hear their squeaks as they hunt.

    • lesliesinclair profile image

      lesliesinclair 4 years ago

      There've been a few bats in my life and on each occasion it was scary, from childhood to parenthood.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      I find bats so cute, but unfortunately I am ascared of 'em Nice lens and pics, saw your lens featured on Nice lens, saw you featured on IMMINENT! The âNightfallâ Highlight Reel

    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 4 years ago

      I so love bats, we have small (six inches or so) ones every summer, which come out after the sun sets. I used to feed them meal worms in my front yard. I'd throw the worms high in the air, and the bats would catch them and eat them.

    • profile image

      RoSelou 4 years ago

      The bats in your place are cute. Those who are afraid of bats will be fascinated because of the photos, although I am not afraid of them. The bats in our place are all brown or dark brown and no fur, they avoid camera too.