What do bats look like?

image of a bat

Bats are the only mammals with the capacity to fly. They have furry bodies with wings attached to their arms, and their faces look a bit like rodents. Some people think they are cute, while others find them scary.

These mammals have over 1,200 species coming in all shapes and sizes. Among mammals, the flying fox has the largest wingspan, reaching six feet across! While the smallest miniature is the bumblebee bat, which is only about an inch long.

There are only slight variations when it comes to different bat species. They still share similar characteristics, after all. So, let’s picture what these mammals look like! 

What are the features of bats?

The first thing people notice about bats is their wings. A skin membrane stretches between the bats’ arms and legs, allowing these creatures to fly.

The bones in a bat’s wing are very different from ours. They are long and curved, which gives the animal lift and helps them to maneuver while in the air. When they are at rest, you can see the shape of the bones in their wings. Aside from this, what are their recognizable features?

Size and shape

Bats come in all sorts of sizes. They can be as large as a dog or as small as a bumblebee. Most bats, however, are about the size of a mouse. They measure between two and five inches long, with a wingspan of up to two feet.

As for their shape, bats have elongated bodies and large noticeable ears. Their noses are either pointed or rounded, depending on the species. They have sharp teeth too. All of these features help them to hunt for food in the dark.

Bats also have very fine and soft fur on their body. It helps to insulate them from the cold and keeps them warm at night.

Color

Their bodies are covered in fur, which can be any color, including brown, gray, black, tan, and even red. Some species even have two-toned fur! Their bellies are usually lighter in color than their backs.

An example of a red-colored bat is the eastern red bat, distributed widely in the east of North America. It gets its name from its reddish-brown fur and long canine teeth. Another brightly-colored bat is the Spix’s disk-winged bat (Thyroptera tricolor), which is purple, brown, and yellow!

The Honduran bat turns out to be interesting too. These bats are white! They have yellow ears and are about the size of a human thumb.

In addition, some bats will have a different ear color from their body. For example, the Yellow-eared bat has yellowish-brown ears and light brown fur on its body.

Tail

Tails are not always visible since they are very short or tucked away. When they are visible, you’ll notice that some bats have a tail that is as long as their body, while others have much shorter tails.

Not all bats have tails. But when they do, the kind of tails fall into 3 different types. The first one is the Sheath tail, in which the tail is enclosed in a membrane. The second type is the Free tail, where a small part of the tail extends beyond the skin membrane. The third one is the Short tail, in which the tail is directly attached to the two legs of bats, and the skin membrane does not enclose it. 

One species of bat that has a long tail is the Long-tailed blossom bat (Notopteris macdonaldi). They are found in the tropical forests of Fiji and Vanuatu and use their tails to help them maneuver while flying.

Behavior

Bats are nocturnal creatures, which means they sleep during the day and are active at night. They are known to be excellent flyers and can reach speeds of up to 60 miles per hour! 

These mammals have an exciting way of locating their prey and communicating called “Sonar” or “Echolocation.” This pertains to the sound waves and echoes determining an object’s location. The bat emits a sound, then listens for the echo that bounces back when the sound waves hit an object. This helps them to navigate in the dark and find food.

Bats are also social animals and live in groups called “colonies.” In these colonies, there may be thousands of bats! These animals roost in trees, caves, buildings, and even people’s houses. Bats play an essential role in our ecosystem too. They help to pollinate flowers, spread seeds, and eat many insects, making them biological control agents.

Different Types of Bats and How To Identify Them

Now that we’ve identified the general features of a bat, it’s time to identify the different types of bats! As we all know, there are over 1200 of them. Below are the most common and unique bats you might find interested in:

Honduran White Bat

These bats are undeniably adorable! When you hear the word “bat,” you might instantly 

think about a strange-looking mammal. But I bet the Honduran White bat will surely change your mind.

The Honduran white bat is a member of the Phyllostomidae family and is found only in the lowland rainforests of eastern Honduras, Costa Rica, Northern Nicaragua, and western Panama.

As the name suggests, this bat is entirely white except for its black eyes, yellow ears, and wing membranes. Their body is about 1.46-1.85 inches, wingspan up to 4 inches, and weighs about 0.20 ounces. If you hold a Honduran white bat, it can be compared to your thumb size. They’re incredibly small.

The Honduran white bat is a frugivore that feeds on fruits. It is also known to eat flowers, leaves, and insects. This bat roosts in the hollows of trees and sometimes in a cave.

Giant Golden-Crowned Flying Fox

The Giant golden-crowned flying fox is a species of fruit-eating bats and a member of the Pteropodidae family endemic to the Philippines. With a wingspan of up to 5.6 feet and a weight of approximately 2.6 pounds, it is the largest bat in the world.

This bat has reddish-brown fur and a yellowish-golden crown. The golden-crowned flying fox is a frugivore and feeds primarily on fruits such as figs, mangoes, and bananas. It also eats flowers, nectar, and leaves.

These flying foxes roost in trees during the day and forage for food at night. They are considered to be endangered due to habitat loss and hunting.

Yellow-Winged Bat

The yellow-winged bat is a member of the Megadermatidae family and is found in sub-Saharan Africa to the north and south of Zambia. They are among the five species of false vampire bats in Africa.

These bats have light brown fur and reddish-yellow wings. These bats are notable for their noseleaf ears, which have the same color as other membranes. They are small bats with a body length of 2.4-3 inches and a wingspan of up to 14 inches.

Spotted Bat

The spotted bat is a member of the Vespertilionidae family. These bats are among the largest in their family, with a body length of up to 3.9 inches and a wingspan of up to 13 inches.

Spotted bats have black fur with white spots on their shoulders and back. As their name suggests, they are recognizable for the two large white spots on their dorsal side. These bats are also known for their long, narrow wings and big ears.

Spotted bats are classified as insectivorous bats. These bats feed primarily on moths and other flying insects.

Rafinesque’s Big-Eared Bat

The Rafinesque’s big-eared bat is also a known member of the Vespertilionidae family. These bats get their name from their large rabbit-like ears, which can be up to 2.7 inches long! They also have long, narrow wings and a body length of up to 3.5 inches.

These bats have large facial glands on both sides of their snout. They can have bicolored bellies and grayish-brown fur above. They typically roost in caves during the day and forage for food at night.

Desert Long-Eared Bat

The Desert Long-Eared Bat shares an attractive white coloration with the White Honduran Bat. But, what makes them stand out is their huge long ears. In fact, their ears can be up to 3 inches long!

The Desert Long-Eared Bat is also a member of the Vespertilionidae family, which is found in the regions of North Africa and the Middle East. They have light brown fur, and their wing membranes are pale.

Visored Bat

If you find other bats’ appearance confusing, then the Visored bat won’t let you go through that. 

Visored bats are memorable for the presence of the “visor” on their face, hence the name. This structure appears as a cap and is not present in other species. So if you spot a visored one, you can easily distinguish them! 

Visored bats are the only species in the genus Sphaeronycteris. These bats molt once a year to replace the color of their fur. They become dark brown but lighten as they age.

Common Vampire Bat

The Common Vampire Bat is the most widespread bat species in Central and South America. These bats are small, with a body length of up to 3 inches and a wingspan of up to 8 inches. As their name suggests, these bats are vampires! They feed on the blood of mammals, birds, and reptiles. But, it’s not the way you expected. These bats only lick tiny bits of blood from their prey’s skin.

The Common Vampire Bat has black or dark brown fur and reddish-brown wings. They have large eyes, small ears, and a short snout. These bats are excellent flyers and can travel up to 25 miles per hour.

White-Winged Vampire Bat

This vampire bat species is usually clay-colored or dark cinnamon brown. They have white outlines on their wings, with no visible tails. The skin membrane between the second and third wing bones is predominantly white.

Out of all the bats, the white-winged vampire bat is the only species known to have 22 permanent teeth. The other two vampire bat species only have 20 as they lack the second upper molar tooth.

Like the typical vampire bat, these bats have sharp teeth to make minor cuts on their prey’s skin. They then lick the blood that seeps out of the wound.

Rufous Horseshoe Bat

The Rufous Horshoe Bat will give you no trouble identifying too. These bats are small to medium in size, with a body length of up to 3.5 inches and a wingspan of up to 13 inches. They’re easily noticeable due to large noseleafs with a horseshoe-like appearance.

They have reddish-brown or golden-brown fur, with black tips on their wing membranes. The Rufous Horseshoe Bat is native to Europe, Asia, and Africa.

Jamaican Fruit Bat

The Jamaican Fruit Bat is a member of the Phyllostomidae family and one of the world’s largest bat species. These bats have a body length of up to 16 inches and a wingspan of up to 4 feet!

Despite their large size, Jamaican Fruit Bats are gentle creatures. They live in colonies and are known to be exceptionally social. These bats live as essential pollinators and seed dispersers in the tropical forests of Jamaica.

They have dark brown or black fur and a light-colored belly. Their wings are broad and membrane-like, with finger-like bones called digits. Jamaican Fruit Bats also have large eyes, small ears, and a long snout.

Other Bat Species

Bats are diverse creatures, and there are many other species found all over the world. In fact, they are tagged as one of the most effective breeders of the class Mammalia

Other bat species include:

  • Big Brown Bat
  • Red Bat
  • Lesser Long-nosed Bat
  • Hoary bat
  • Silver-haired Bat
  • Little Brown Myotis
  • Mexican Free-tailed Bat
  • Pallid Bat

How long do Bat wings get?

The longest recorded bat wing span is just over 5.5 feet! This exceptional wingspan belongs to the Giant Golden-Crowned Flying Fox, a fruit bat found in the Philippines. The average bat wingspan, however, is much smaller. Many bats have wingspans between 10 and 16 inches.

What does a bat look like at night?

At night, bats look like black shapes flying in the sky. And looking closely, you can see their wings flapping in the air. You might see them swooping and diving as they hunt for insects. They are hard to see during the day because they roost in dark places. But if you’re lucky enough to spot one, you’ll know they have furry bodies and wings.

What does bat infestation look like?

Bats infest homes for a variety of reasons. They might be looking for a place to roost or shelter from the weather. Or, they might be attracted to the insect pests in your home. When they roost, they can be in big or small groups. If this happens, the following signs are as follows:

  • Bat tracks in dust or on the ground
  • Finding bat droppings (guano) in your attic or on your porch
  • Hearing strange noises coming from your attic at night
  • Foul smells from the attic or other secluded areas

If you see any of these signs, you should contact a pest control professional to have the bats removed from your home.

What does bat guano look like?

Bat droppings or guano look like small pellets and are usually dark in color. If you see bat guano, it’s a good indication that you have a bat infestation. You might find it in your attic, porch, or ground where bats roost.

Bat guano can be harmful if humans come in contact with or inhale it. If you see bat guano, it’s best to contact a pest control professional to have the bats removed from your home.

What does a white-nose syndrome look like in a bat?

The white-nose syndrome is a fungal infection that affects the skin of bats. It is characterized by white patches on the bat’s body, specifically on the muzzle and wings. The infection becomes more prevalent in bats during hibernation. This is due to a lowered metabolic rate and decreased body temperature.

The white nose syndrome has swept away a few species and washed away millions of bats in North America. It is known as the most deadly infection for bats all over the world.

Have a problem with bat infestation?

Bats are generally not a pleasure to keep around. You can have traces of bat droppings, wall stains, foul smells, and risk for diseases when you have bats roosting in your home. You should immediately contact AAAC Wildlife Removal at times like this. Call us today and we’ll get rid of the bats in your property!

Final Word

There are over 1200 species worldwide, with varying sizes, colors, and even habits. Some are as small as The White Honduran bat, some can be as recognizable as the Visored bat, and some even have crowns like the Giant Golden-Crowned bat. Despite differences, they all have one thing in common: they are all fascinating creatures! 

These mammals are vital to the ecosystem, aiding in pollination and seed dispersion. But besides the environmental benefits, they can be unwelcome houseguests. If you have a bat infestation, it’s best to contact AAAC Wildlife Removal to have them removed. Remember, bats can be carriers of diseases, so it’s important to take the necessary precautions.

FAQs

When is bat mating season?

Mating season for bats generally happens in early summer to late fall, from mid-April to late June. This is when male bats are looking for females to mate with. The females will have their baby bats, called pups, in the spring.

How many young bats can female bats give birth to?

Most female bats give birth to only one pup per year, though some species can have up to four pups. The babies are born blind and hairless. They are pink in color, and their eyes will open after about three weeks.

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