Different Types of Exotic Bats
Updated: May 26
Great Fruit-Eating Bat
Featuring a small, squirrel-like face, the Great Fruit-Eating Bat is a charming critter that lives throughout Central America and northern South America. Aptly named, it tends to feed on fruit, though it is known to also eat nectar.
However, the great fruit-eating bat is actually a sociable little critter that’s known to forage for fruit to share with the rest of its harem. When a single bat locates a tree with some tasty fruit, it will actually report its findings back to the harem so everyone can come and have a snack.
That being said, scientists have recently discovered that some great fruit-eating bats have developed a condition called alopecia, which causes the bats to lose most, if not all of their hair. Scientists aren’t quite sure what’s causing this widespread hair loss, but a number of research projects are currently underway to learn more about the issue.
Brown Long-Eared Bat
Arguably Europe’s most endearing bat, the brown long-eared bat is found throughout the continent, but it is most commonly sighted in the United Kingdom. As you might’ve guessed from its name, this critter has some pretty large ears that can sometimes be as long as its body!
Most brown long-eared bats live in woodland areas and caves. They’re most active at night and they use echolocation to find their favorite prey: insects.
Just when you thought this bat couldn’t get any cuter, it manages to steal your heart again with its adorable sleeping behavior. In fact, the brown long-eared bat is known to tuck its huge ears under its wings while snoozing, perhaps to help drown out all the noise of the colony.
Indian Flying Fox
Peters's dwarf epauletted fruit bat is something of an oxymoron—it's classified as a megabat despite its small stature. While megabats do trend larger than microbats, the main difference between the two groups is that microbats echolocate while megabats usually do not.
This dwarf species is native to Africa, where it resides in tropical forests and woodlands. Thanks to its diet of fruit and nectar, it's an important pollinator of tropical plants.
Indian Flying Fox
The Indian flying fox is one of the largest bat species, weighing up to 3.5 pounds and boasting a wingspan of nearly 5 feet. It's found throughout the Indian subcontinent and roosts in large groups in tree canopies.
It's not a picky eater, foraging for many types of fruits, as well as leaves and insects. In some regions, flying foxes are seen as pests, especially near fruit orchards where they can damage crops. However, studies largely show that their role as pollinators outweighs the economic harm they cause.
Honduran White Bat
The Honduran white bat is a highly specialized species found in Central America, and one of only six bat species with white fur.
It roosts in groups of up to 15 bats in broad leaves, which it cuts with its teeth to modify into a tent shape. Its diet is special as well—it's a fruit eater that subsists mainly on a single type of fig.
Due to its unique housing and dietary needs, the Honduran white bat is especially vulnerable to
deforestation, and is listed as a near-threatened species by the IUCN.
First found in Southern Indiana’s Wyandotte Cave in the early 1900s, the Indiana bat is quite small, weighing only a quarter of an ounce (about the weight of three pennies). Even though it’s small, this species can eat up to half its body weight in insects each night, providing vital pest control. The Indiana bat’s scientific name is Myotis Sodalis, and it’s an accurate description of this social species. Myotis means “mouse ear” and refers to the relatively small, mouse-like ears of the bats, and sodalis is the Latin word for “companion.” In the winter, Indiana bats hibernate in large numbers in caves (and occasionally abandoned mines) with the biggest colony supporting 20,000 to 50,000 Bats! While found throughout the Eastern United States, more than half of their population hibernates in the caves in Southern Indiana.
Mariana Fruit bat
The Mariana fruit bat -- also called the flying fox -- is one of the largest bats found in the United States. It measures in at 7.7-9.4 inches in length, can weigh up to 1.3 pounds and has a wingspan of up to 42 inches wide. This bat has dark fur, and its shoulders and neck are gold to pale brown in color. The Mariana fruit bat is found only in Guam, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands, and it’s an important pollinator that’s essential for keeping forests and watersheds healthy. Its diet consists of mostly fruit (along with the occasional flower and leaves), and while it eats, it fertilizes fruits and nuts. The flying fox spends much of its day sleeping, and it can be seen hanging upside down on trees in the forest. Why do they sleep in this position? Hanging upside down has benefits for bats -- special tendons in their feet allow them to be relaxed and conserve energy, and this position allows for easy takeoff.
Virginia big-eared bat
One of two subspecies of the Townsend’s big-eared bat, the Virginia big-eared bat is aptly named for its large ears, which are more than 1 inch long. This medium-sized bat can be found in Kentucky, North Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia where it inhabits caves year round. In the early spring, females congregate in maternity colonies in the caves' warm areas and each give birth to a single pup. Within three weeks of their birth, offspring are able to fly, and by six weeks, they’re fully weaned. Then they can start going out on their own, using their highly efficient sonar to eat insects while flying through the air. While the fungus that caused white-nose syndrome has been found in the caves where they live, this species has yet to contract the disease. It’s a mystery that scientists are studying to see if certain bats are immune to white-nose syndrome. Even slight disturbances can cause Virginia big-eared bats to leave caves, abandon young and force bats to use valuable energy reserves needed to survive hibernation.
Mexican free-tailed Bat
The Mexican free-tailed bat is a subspecies of the Brazilian free-tailed bat that lives in the southern United States. There are over 100 million Mexican free-tailed bats in the U.S., with two of the largest populations in Carlsbad Caverns National Park in New Mexico and Bracken Cave near San Antonio, Texas. Every night from spring through autumn, the bats wow visitors as they swarm out of the caves in a whirling funnel to find water and food. It’s estimated that the 4,000 bats at Carlsbad Caverns eat about 3 tons of insects every night! These bats are strong, fast flyers -- reaching speeds of up to 60 miles per hour, flying as far as 50 miles from their roosts and in some cases as high as 10,000 feet in the air. While some of these bats hibernate, most migrate to Mexico for winter.
Vampire bats glide stealthily through the night air as they search for food. Like the legendary monster that they’re named after, these small mammals drink the blood of other animals for survival. They feed on cows, pigs, horses, and birds. Found in Mexico and Central and South America, vampire bats even occasionally bite humans for blood. (But it’s very rare!)
Rather than sucking blood like a vampire, these bats make a small cut with their teeth, then lap up the flowing blood with their tongues. The animals are so light and graceful that they can sometimes drink blood from an animal for more than 30 minutes without waking it up. The blood-sucking doesn’t even hurt their prey.
Vampire bats have special adaptations to help them with the special way they feed. For instance, researchers discovered that the flying mammals can locate prey by sensing the sound of an animal breathing. These bats can even recognize the breathing patterns of one animal, like a cow, and return to feed from it night after night.
Unlike other species of bats, vampire bats can walk, run, and jump, which helps them attach to their prey. Heat sensors on their noses help them find a good spot on an animal's body to feed. And strong hind legs and a special thumb help them take off after feeding.
What happens if vampire bats don't get their nightly meal? If they can't find blood for two nights in a row, they’ll die. But some vampire bats seem to be generous. Well-fed bats will often regurgitate—or spit up—blood to share with others in exchange for grooming. Captive female bats seem especially friendly toward new mothers. After a baby is born, other bats have been observed feeding the mom for about two weeks after the birth.
MADAGASCAN FRUIT BATS
The Madagascan Fruit Bat is a species of Bat in the family Pteropodidae. It is Endemic to Madagascar and it is listed as "Vulnerable" by the IUCN Because it is hunted as bushmeat.
Known as a desert bat, the pallid bat is found in semi-arid regions across most of the American West. Its name comes from its light brown to cream-colored fur, which helps it blend into its surrounding. It’s about 4-4.5 inches long and boasts a wingspan of up to 15-16 inches. Unlike most bats, it doesn’t use echolocation to locate prey. Instead the pallid bat uses its long ears and simply listens. Swooping in silently from above, it eats crickets, beetles, grasshoppers -- even scorpions. These bats are hibernators, and they roost in colonies of 12 to 100 in dark, cool areas, which can include buildings, between rocks, and in caves or mines. Be careful not to scare these bats though. They emit a skunk-like odor when disturbed.