Types of Bats: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Mary Beth Burns

Mary Beth has taught 1st, 4th and 5th grade and has a specialist degree in Educational Leadership. She is currently an assistant principal.

Although bats are feared by many people, they are actually an amazing species. Explore the different types of bats, where they live and what the day (or night) in the life of a bat would be like!

What Are Bats?

While bats might not be cuddly and lovable like a dog or a panda bear, they are very interesting and amazing creatures. Bats are the only mammals that are truly capable of flight. Bats can be found almost anywhere, with the exception of deserts and arctic areas. Some bats live alone, while others live with millions of other bats in caves, forests or sides of buildings.

Large Bats

Grey-headed flying fox
gray fox

There are over 1,000 different species of bats, and some of them are considered to be megabats_. Megabats are large in size and are also known as 'flying foxes.' Most megabats are fruit eating bats that live in hot and humid forests. One type of megabat is the grey-headed flying fox. They live in Australia and Southeast Asia. They are one of the largest bats, with an average length of 11 inches and average wingspan of 3.3 feet! Grey-headed flying foxes are grey, with orange necks and have fur all the way down to their ankles.

A megabat exhibit at a museum in Italy

Another type of megabat is the giant golden-crowned flying fox. This bat is the biggest bat in the world with a wingspan of up to six feet and an average weight of 2.5 pounds. With a face like a fox and a snout like a dog, they mostly live in rainforests and travel about 25 miles per night to hunt for food. This megabat takes pride in being clean and will regularly use its large wings to scoop up water and take a bath. Unfortunately, this amazing species is endangered due to the large amount of hunters who go after these bats.

Small Bats

Small bats, or microbats, can be as tiny as less than an inch long! This is about the height of a bumblebee. Surprisingly, despite their size, microbats can live a long, full life; one microbat lived to be 41 years old! One of the most amazing things about microbats is that they have a special power of echolocation. Echolocation is the use of echoes to see objects. Many people believe that bats are blind, but that's not true, they just can't see at night! The bats will send out sound waves and use the sound of the echo to find its prey. Bats can even tell the size, texture and shape of the object based on the echo!

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