What Do Bats Eat?

What do bats eat?
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What Do Bats Eat? After rodents, bats are the second most popular mammal species. Bats make up 20% of the known living mammal species.

Generally, bats eat different kinds of foods.

Some species of bats specialize in eating insects, others eat fruit, nectar, and pollen, while others display carnivory on vertebrates.

What Do Bats Eat?

Type of Bat Scientific Name Diet
Bumblebee Bat Craseonycteris thonglongyai Insects
Greater False Vampire Bat Megaderma lyra Carnivorous diet (insects and small vertebrates)
New-Zealand Lesser Short-tailed Bat Mystacina tuberculata Insects, nectar, pollen, and fruits.
The Cuban Greater Funnel Eared Bat Natalus primus Soft-bodied insects such as crickets and moths.
Seychelles Fruit Bat Pteropus seychellensis Plant-based diet (floral resources, leaves, fruits, and seeds)

Bats Diet by Types

Scientists have described over 1,100 bat species. Bats were traditionally classified as either Megachiroptera (megabats) or Microchiroptera (microbats). These terms were misleading because some microbats were large, and some of the megabats were small.

The order Chiroptera, which bats are classified, is further subdivided into 18 families. A sample of the species drawn from some of these families will be studied in this section.

What Do Bumblebee Bats Eat?

The Bumblebee bat species mainly consume insects, which they get by nibbling them from leaves.

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Chiroptera Craseonycteridae Craseonycteris Craseonycteris thonglongyai
  • This species is classified in the Family Craseonycteridae.
  • The bumblebee bat is considered to be the smallest mammal in the world, weighing in at 2 grams.
  • It gets its name from the fact that its size is almost like that of the bumblebee.
  • This species commonly inhabits limestone outcrops next to rivers, bamboo forests, and caves.

What Do Greater False Vampire Bats Eat?

The Greater False vampire bat is mostly carnivorous. Its diet includes insects and small vertebrates.

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Chiroptera Megadermatidae Megaderma Megaderma lyra
  • This bat species are classified in the Family Megadermatidae.
  • It is found in wide distribution in Pakistan, China, Malay Peninsula, and Sri Lanka, and its body length ranges between 6.5 to 9.5 cm, and the average weight of between 40 and 60 g.
  • The greater false vampire bat mostly inhabits tropical areas, and its terrestrial biomes include scrub forests, rainforests, and other kinds of forests.

What Do New-Zealand Lesser Short-tailed Bats Eat?

The New-zealand lesser short-tailed bat mainly consumes insects, nectar, pollen, and fruits.

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Chiroptera Mystacinidae Mystacina Mystacina tuberculata
  • This species is classified in the Family Mystacinidae.
  • As its name suggests, this species is native to New Zealand, and it is further subdivided into 3 subspecies.
  • The lesser short-tailed bat mainly inhabits old-growth temperate forests, especially in areas with large trees and leaf litter.

What Do Cuban Greater Funnel Eared Bats Eat?

The Cuban greater funnel-eared bat mainly feeds on soft-bodied insects with examples of crickets and moths.

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Chiroptera Natalidae Natalus Natalus primus
  • This bat species is categorized under the Family Natalidae.
  • The Cuban greater funnel-eared bat was rediscovered in 1992 after it was previously declared extinct.
  • This species inhabits only one home in the world, a cave in the western parts of Cuba.

What Do Seychelles Fruit Bats Eat?

The Seychelles fruit bats primarily dine on plant material, including floral resources, leaves, fruits, and seeds.

Kingdom Order Family Genus Species
Animalia Chiroptera Pteropodidae Pteropus Pteropus seychellensis
  • This species is classified under the Family Pteropodidae, and it is considered to be an old-world fruit bat.
  • The Old-World fruit bats are found in the old-world tropics, particularly the eastern Mediterranean region, Africa, the islands of West Pacific, and South Asia.
  • These bats are generally dubbed as flying foxes. The Seychelles fruit bat mostly inhabits coastal areas and islands.

How Do Bats Hunt?

Bats hunt via a mechanism dubbed echolocation.

  • As they fly, they make sounds, whose returning echoes make them know about what is ahead of them.
  • They can then launch an attack to capture their unsuspecting prey.

When Do Bats Eat?

Bats are mostly nocturnal, meaning they tend to be more active at night. They will be found hunting for their food and eating at night.

How Often Do Bats Eat?

Bats have a fast metabolism and mighty flight muscles, which means they need high energy intake.

  • These organisms feed very often, and they can eat up to 500 insects per hour, and 3,000 per night.
  • During winter, when food supply is limited, they feed less often.

What Eats Bats?

Bat predators include owls, hawks, snakes, and mammalian carnivores.

  • Other bat species consume bats, and this is evidenced among some old-world bat species and new world species such as the Vampyrum spectrum.

Where Do Bats Fit in the Animal Food Chain?

Bats play an essential role in the animal food chain as prey and predators.

  • In their role as predators, these mammals help limit the populations of the organisms they feed on, thus promoting a balance in their ecosystem.
  • In their role as prey, bats provide an excellent source of protein to organisms that consider them to be vital delicacies.

Cite this article as: "What Do Bats Eat?," in Bio Explorer by Jack Kirsten, October 28, 2017, https://www.bioexplorer.net/what-do-bats-eat.html/.

Key References

  • “Classifying bats – Types of bats – Bat Conservation Trust”. Accessed October 27, 2019. Link.
  • “Bumblebee Bat Facts | Sciencing”. Accessed October 27, 2019. Link.
  • “Bumblebee bat | Craseonycteris thonglongyai”. Accessed October 27, 2019. Link.
  • “Foraging Behavior of the Indian False Vampire Bat, Megaderma lyra (Chiroptera: Megadermatidae)” – JSTOR. Accessed October 27, 2019. Link.
  • “New Zealand short-tailed bats: Native animal conservation”. Accessed October 27, 2019. Link.
  • “IUCN Red List of Threatened Species”. Accessed October 27, 2019. Link.
  • “Cuban Greater Funnel-eared Bat | Natalus primus”. Accessed October 27, 2019. Link.
  • “Endangered bats: The manicure helping to save a species – BBC News”. Accessed October 27, 2019. Link.
  • “Bats drink the sea – NATURE SEYCHELLES CONSERVATION”. Accessed October 27, 2019. Link.
  • “Flight, food and echolocation – About Bats – Bat Conservation Trust”. Accessed October 27, 2019. Link.

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