Bats Theme--School-age


Bats school-age theme

Things to Know

Bats are mammals. Mammals are warm-blooded, babies are born live and not hatched from an egg, they nurse their young, and have hair or fur. Humans, dogs, whales are types of mammals.

Bats are the only mammal that can truly fly. There are other animals that may appear to fly but they really don't. Sugar gliders and flying squirrels glide rather than fly. They glide from a high point to a low point. Bats are able to launch into flight from a still position.

Bats are mammals, not birds.


Bats are found almost everywhere in the world except in extremely cold areas and on some remote islands. The places on Earth with no bats are the Arctic, Antarctic and a few isolated Oceanic islands.

Bat Range Distribution
Bat Range

Bat Species

Bats are nocturnal.

Most bats are nocturnal. They spend the day grooming and sleeping. Bats hunt during the night. About 70% of bats eat insects, they come out at night to eat bugs. Most bats in the USA and UK feed only on insects.


All bats belong to the scientific order Chiroptera, which means "hand-wing" in Greek. There are two suborders of bats: Megabat (Megachiroptera), meaning large bat (usually fruit eating bats) and microbat (Microchiroptera), meaning small bat (usually eats insects).

There are over 900 bat species in the world. Most bats eat insects (about 70%). Insect-eating bats are usually small in size. The kitti's hog-nosed bat, also known as the bumblebee bat, is about 1.1 to 1.3 inches (29 to 33mm) in length and weighs 0.074 oz (2 g).

Bumblebee Bat
Bumblebee Bat

Vital Ecological Role

Bats perform the vital roles of consuming insect pests, pollinating flowers and dispersing fruit seeds. Bats are important pollinators in tropical and desert climates. Most flower-visiting bats are found in Africa, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Islands.

The Mexican long-tongued bat migrates north in the spring from Mexico into Arizona, New Mexico and Texas.

 Mexican long-tongued bat
Mexican long-tongued bat


Fruit bats are tropical animals found in humid and dense forest areas. There are over 160 different types of fruit bats. They eat almost entirely fruit, nectar, and pollen. Fruit bats are larger and include the largest species of bat, the flying foxes, which may weigh 2 or 3 lbs (.9 to 1.4 kg). The greater fruit bat has a wing span up to 5 feet (1.524 m).

A few bats hunt for larger prey, such as frogs, birds, fish, and mice.

The vampire bat is the only mammal whose food source is blood. Three types of bats feed on blood. The group is called vampire bats. They mostly feed on the blood of animals, such as pigs and cows, not humans. They would rather feed off sleeping smaller animals to get their teaspoon size meal. The three types of vampire bats are native to the Americas, ranging from Mexico to Brazil, Chile, Uruguay and Argentina.

Bumblebee Bat
Large flying fox
"Pteropus vampyrus"


Bats have fur on their bodies. The bat has two wings covered in skin. It flies with its fingers. It uses its thumbs to grip a branch and to crawl across rocky walls. It hangs by its feet upside down to sleep by day.

Bats are expert fliers. A bats body is made for flying with a short neck, a small stomach, and large muscles in their backs and chest. Bats don't flap their wings up and down to fly, they fly with a rowing motion.

The bones in bats wings are similar to the bones in our arm and hand. The bones are very long compared to a bats body. A bat has a thumb and four fingers and can move their wing like a hand. When bats extend their fingers, their wings are ready for flight. By shaping their 'hands' they control their flight path.

Bat Anatomy
Bats have feet, arms,
and hands with fingers.


Most bats live in groups called colonies. Bats' homes are called roosts. Bats live in caves or trees. In cities, bats also will live under roofs and bridges. They will make their home in any place that is cool and dark.

Bat Anatomy
Colony of the
Mouse-eared bats.


Some bats hibernate while others migrate. Bats that live in colder climates, many will hibernate when it turns cold as their food source goes away. Most bats are insect eating bats and there is no food for them in the wintertime. Some bat species will migrate to a warmer climate during the winter. It is more common for a bat to hibernate than to migrate.


In the spring after bats awaken from hibernation or return from migration the female bats will have baby bats called pups. Baby bats are born alive from their mother's body. Bats usually have only one baby at a time. Although on occasion the female bat may have twins. Baby bats are born tiny and pink with no fur. They drink milk from their mothers like other mammals do. Baby bats have strong legs and claws as they hang onto their mothers when she is roosting and they hang on cave walls when she is not there. If a baby looses its grip and falls, it will die.When the pup is about four months old, it learns to fly.


We have received questions on the "Echolocation" video. The "Echolocation" song/video by Batney Ears is from the Jumpstart Animals Adventures (PC & Mac) game.


Things to Do

Stories to Read (online)

The story of Echo the Bat


If a bat comes into your house. Just open a door or a window and turn off the lights. It will then fly outside.

Facts--Learn About Bats

Bat Conservation International
A lot of information, facts, photos, and much more.

National Geographic Creature Feature-Vampire Bats

Kidzone Bats
Facts and photos

Sites to See

Carlsbad Caverns National Park About Bats, Caves, and Deserts--Bat Activities

Bat Activities -- Variety of worksheets

Bat Thematic Unit (Contra Costa County Office of Education)

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