Fall is in the air—you’ve probably already started to see Halloween decorations in stores and around your neighborhood. Along with the pumpkins and monsters in these decorations, you might see some amazing but often misunderstood animals: batsMariana_fruit_bat_1! But bats aren’t monsters—they’re mammals just like us. Bats are unique. They’re the only mammals that can fly, and they belong to their own separate group (despite what you might have heard, bats aren’t rodents like mice and rats).
There are over a thousand species of bat. In fact, nearly one of every four mammal species is a kind of bat. Some eat fruit, others eat insects, and others eat more unusual foods, like fish. The largest bats have wingspans of up to six feet, while the littlest ones are the size of a bumblebee and weigh less than a penny.
Some people are frightened by stories linking bats to monsters like vampires, but bats are shy, gentle creatures. In fact, they help us in a lot of ways. They eat annoying (and disease-spreading) insects like mosquitoes, and they help pollinate many of the fruits and vegetables that we enjoy. Learning more about bats through Zoobooks, nature centers, and zoos can help make these amazing animals less scary!

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons