There are more than 1,400 species of bats worldwide, and they all have different diets. Some bats eat fruit, others eat insects, and some even drink blood!
Bats are known to locate their prey using echolocation. This is done by emitting high-pitched sounds and listening to the echo that comes back. This ability gives them a good idea of where their prey is and how to catch it.
Let’s explore the bat’s diet and learn more about what they eat.
So, What do bats like to eat?
Most bats eat insects, with the night-flying ones being the most common prey. In fact, more than 40 distinct bat species in the United States have been observed to feed on them.
Fruit-eating bats exist as well. They subsist mainly on fruits, seeds, and pollen from flowers. When their primary foods are not readily available, they will move on to the next best thing.
With the existence of over a thousand species, bats would absolutely have different food preferences. So, what specific food do bats really eat? Let’s find out!
Chinch bugs are small, oval-shaped creatures that are black with white stripes. These bugs feast on plants, which is why they’re often found in agricultural areas.
Bats that eat chinch bugs or insect-eating bats live in warm climates, such as in Africa and Australia. These insects are active at night, so bats can easily find them when they’re out hunting.
Microbats such as the little brown bat and Northern long-eared bat are known to eat these dry-grass thriving bugs.
Moths are a type of insect that is closely related to butterflies. They come in all shapes and sizes, and some even have colorful wings. Despite their beauty, moths can be pretty pesky. They’re known to eat clothes made out of natural fabrics, such as wool and silk.
Fortunately, bats can help control the moth population! These nocturnal animals feast on moths during their nightly hunts. In fact, a single little brown bat can eat up to 60 medium-sized moths in one night.
Some of the most common moth-eating bats are the hoary bat, the European free-tailed bat, and the Rafinesque’s big-eared bat.
Mosquitoes are tiny, flying insects that are known for their itchy bites. Their females are responsible for this. Although they are small, their bite can cause a deadly illness called dengue.
Bats are popular for eating over 1000 mosquito-sized insects a night. Not only does this help control the mosquito population, but it also helps reduce the spread of diseases. These pesky insects are more active at night, which makes them the perfect prey for bats.
Some of the most common mosquito-eating bats are the little brown bat, the big brown bat, and the Egyptian fruit bat.
Beetles are a little different from all the other winged insects. The first layer of their wings is hardened and thickened. These forewings protect the fragile, translucent wings they use to fly.
There are over 400,000 described beetle species, making them the world’s largest group of insects. And, that’s a massive feast for the night foragers! No wonder they can eat a hundred or a thousand in a single night.
Bats that consume beetles are typically found in North and South America. These include the red bat, silver-haired bat, and the widely distributed long-legged bat in western America.
Crickets are small, nocturnal insects that make a chirping sound by rubbing their wings together. They’re primarily found in tropical and temperate regions and are popular for being scavengers and omnivores, they serve as a supplemental diet to replace mealworms for bat species like Pallid bats and big brown bats.
Pollen is a powdery substance that plants produce. It contains the male gametes of seed plants and is necessary for fertilization. Surprisingly, bats serve as essential pollinators in desert climates and tropical regions. Pollens attach to the fur of these animals as they fly from flower to flower.
Bats that eat pollen are typically in climates where there aren’t many other pollinators. These are usually mango, banana, durian, guava, and agave. These bats help to spread pollen and allow plants to reproduce.
The lesser long-nosed bat, the greater long-nosed bat, and the Honduran white bat are some of the most frequent bats that consume pollen and contribute to pollination.
Papayas are a type of fruit popular for their sweet taste and nutritional value. They are sweet, fleshy, and often used in juices, smoothies, and salads. But, it isn’t just a delicious fruit – it’s also a favorite food of some species of bats! Megabats like the fruit bat or flying foxes love to forage on these fruits. At the same time, they help to spread the papaya’s seeds as they fly from tree to tree.
Nectar is a sugar-rich liquid produced by flowers. It’s used to attract pollinators like birds and bees. Interestingly, hummingbirds or birds, in general, are not the only nectar specialists. Bats feed on them too, but at night. So, these flying creatures won’t clash and compete for the sugary nectars.
Nectar typically has a very high sugar content – up to 80%, so there’s no wonder why bat frugivores frequent them at night. Bats that eat nectar usually have long tongues to lap up the sweet liquid. These include the lesser long-nosed bat and the Mexican long-tongued bat.
Figs are pear-shaped fruits of the mulberry family. They contain a sweet, honeyed taste and a squishy soft texture that’s a cluster of several flowers and seeds. Figs play an important role in the life of bats as these fruits are a favored food of frugivorous bats. These animals help to spread the seeds of fig trees as they fly from one tree to another. In return, the bats get a sweet and nutritious meal.
Fruit bats, or flying foxes, to be specific, are known to visit figs every night. They serve as their all-time favorite food.
Did you know that there are more than 1,000 types of bananas? You heard it right! That’s a tremendous number of tasty fruit treats with varying tastes that bats enjoy.
Bananas are sweet fruits that grow in tropical regions. They are often used in desserts and smoothies because of their creamy texture and sweet taste.
The most common banana-eater is the endangered trumpet-nosed bat, commonly known as the banana bat. They are tropical forest dwellers with long rostrum, short tails, and small rounded ears. Other bats that love bananas include most fruit bats.
Guava is a tropical fruit with a pear-like shape and a greenish-yellow color. It has a sweet and slightly acidic taste, making it a popular choice for jams, jellies, and sauces.
Guavas are not only enjoyed by humans but also a favorite food of some bats! For example, the typical guava bat is a frugivorous bat that feeds primarily on guavas. These bats live in tropical regions of South America, where they help spread the guava tree’s seeds.
Besides the typical guava bat, the yellow-shouldered bat is also known to eat guavas.
Blood (only the vampire bat)
You might be surprised to know that some bats actually consume blood! The vampire bat is the only known species to do this. These bats are found in tropical regions of Central and South America, where they live in caves and trees.
Vampire bats typically feed on the blood of mammals, such as cows, pigs, and horses. They use their sharp teeth to make a small cut in the animal’s skin, from which they lick up the blood.
Sounds terrifying? Right! But bats only take a teaspoon or two for feeding. The only situation where it would kill its prey is when they pass on rabies.
How do bats hunt for food?
There are three different kinds of bats out there. They’re namely microbats, megabats, and vampire bats. Microbats are small bats that make up 70% of the bat population and thrive on prey caught using echolocation. It is a special form of sonar that emits high-pitched sounds. As the sound waves travel, they bounce off objects and return to the bat. The bat can then use these echoes to determine the object’s shape, size, and location.
Megabats, on the other hand, are larger bats that do not echolocate, most of which are frugivores. These bats possess an extreme ability to smell and locate food, and then lastly, vampire bats. These bats are infamous for mainly thriving on the blood of other animals, like sheep, cows, and horses.
Eating behavior of bats
When it comes to eating, bats are opportunistic feeders. This means that they will eat whatever food is available to them. In the wild, this often includes insects, fruits, and nectar. However, some species of bats are known to eat fish, small mammals, amphibians, and even other bats!
These usually are larger bats like the greater bulldog bat and the spectral bat. Meanwhile, the common Vampire bat is the only known species of bat to regularly feed on blood.
Can bats eat upside-down?
Bats eat while they’re hanging upside down. They hang from their feet and use their hands to pull food into their mouths. Other bats, like the fruit bat, use a long tongue to reach their food.
If you’re wondering, is this just a preference? or does this hold a deeper reason? Well, hanging upside down is normal to bats. They can quickly just fly away from predators too since they don’t need to take off when they do this. They only need to drop themselves.
Do Vampire Bats Drink a Lot of Blood?
You might’ve thought bats drink volumes of blood. But no, that’s not true. Vampire bats only consume about two tablespoons of blood per meal. Vampire bats will typically find an animal asleep or injured and then make a small cut in the animal’s skin. They will then lick up the blood that oozes from it.
Need Help Removing Bats In Your Attic?
Although the foods bats eat do not usually situate in your house, they will invade your home to find a place to sleep or build their roosts and raise their young.
They’re absolutely not a pleasure to keep around. They can be carriers of parasites, rabies, and other deadly diseases. They result in various property damages too.
Don’t want bats roosting in your attic or lurking around your home? Call AAAC Wildlife Removal today!
The tremendous number of bat species allows them to have a variety of food preferences. And though some of them may feed on a tiny drop of pollen or the most unusual insects, most bats will typically eat what is most readily available to them.
Bats might not be adorable creatures for you, but they’re still as significant as other animals. They’re biological control agents who keep the ecosystem in balance. If they ever become a nuisance, call AAAC Wildlife Removal immediately.
Originally published at AAAC Wildlife Removal: https://aaacwildliferemoval.com/what-do-bats-eat/