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Bumblebee Bat Facts: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: April Gwen Ellsworth

April has a master's degree in psychology and has experience teaching special populations from preschoolers to adults.

Have you ever heard of the bumblebee bat? In this lesson, you'll learn about this tiny creature, the many names it goes by, its features and eating habits, and how it lives.

What Is a Bumblebee Bat?

Meet the smallest mammal in the world: the bumblebee bat, so called because it is as small as a bumblebee, or just a little over an inch. And it weighs less than a penny!

But first of all, what is a mammal? A mammal is a warm-blooded animal that has hair or fur and gives birth to live young. The bumblebee bat has long, reddish-brown or grey fur on its back and lighter fur on its belly. And it also gives birth to one baby bumblebee bat each year. Just imagine how tiny this infant must be!

Bumblebee bats were only recently discovered in 1974 by a scientist named Kitti Thonglongya, who found these tiny bats living in the limestone caves of Thailand. In fact, they are known to live only in a small area of Asia spanning western Thailand and southeast Myanmar. Bumblebee bats prefer to live in the backs of caves in bamboo forests near rivers.

Many Different Names

For being such a tiny animal, the bumblebee bat has several big names. Some people call it the hog-nosed bat because its large nose is shaped like a hog's. Another name is Kitti's hog-nosed bat, after the scientist who discovered this mammal. Yet another name for the bumblebee bat is Old World hog-nosed bat because it is found in Asia, which is part of what is sometimes called the Old World. Ready for its biggest name of all? The scientific term for the smallest bat in the world is Craseonycteris thonglongyai. This name is longer than the bat itself!

bumblebee bat

Features and Eating Habits

Above the bumblebee bat's pig-shaped nose are two very small eyes hidden behind fur. Its wide wings are darker than it's fur, and they have tips at the ends that allow it to hover, or stay still in the air while still flapping its wings, like a hummingbird or helicopter.

The bumblebee bat also has large ears, which allow it to use echolocation to find food. Echolocation means the bat gives off a very high-pitched sound, and that sound bounces off objects and returns back to the bat's ears. This is how it can tell where things are located.

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