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Photo of a Fruit Bat in a fig tree, by C.L. Conroy, Morguefile.com  

Over 95% of rainforest regrowth comes from seeds spread by fruit bats. (Source: Bat World Sanctuary) 

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- by E. A. Zimmerman

As Halloween draws near, houses are adorned with black rubber bats with big pointy teeth. Most of the bats that actually live in Connecticut are brown.  Here’s a little test you can take to see how much you know about bats:

  1. What are the two most common species of bats you might find in an attic or barn in CT?
  2. True or False:  Bats are the only rodents that can fly.
  3. Do bats drink blood?
  4. What kind of bat has only been seen once in CT?
  5. If you see a bat flying around on a cold winter night, it is a probably a ____ ____ ___ .
  6. How long does a bat live?
  7. What is a baby bat called?
  8. How to bats help humans?
  9. True or false:  Bats are blind, and rely on sonar to find their food.
  10. Where is the world’s only manmade bat cave?

BONUS QUESTION:  What causes deadly White-Nose Syndrome?


  1. The two species most often found in attics and barns have very unimaginative names - the Little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) and the Big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus.) 
  2. False.  Even though they look a bit like mice, bats are not rodents.  However, they ARE the only vertebrates other than birds that are capable of true flight (versus gliding).
  3. Out of the more than 1,000 species of bats, only three are vampire bats.  They crawl up on all fours to feed from animals like sleeping cattle and horses.  They are very small, and only live in Central and South America.  About 70% of bat species eat insects (like mosquitoes, moths, gnats and beetles).  Most of the rest eat fruit, flower petals, nectar or pollen.  A few species eat lizards, frogs, and even fish and birds.  Hoary bats eat Eastern pipistrelle bats.  
  4. There has been one confirmed sighting of a hibernating Indiana bat (Myotis sodalis) in CT. In addition to Little and Big brown bats, five other species of bats may be found in our state, although they are not common - the Silver-haired bat, Red bat, Hoary bat, Northern bat, and Eastern pipistrelle. The Eastern small-footed bat is probably extirpated (locally extinct.)
  5. If you see a bat flying around in the wintertime, it is probably a Big brown bat.  Most CT bats hibernate in the wintertime. 
  6. For their body size, bat live longer than any other order of mammal.  Depending on the species, they may live more than 30 years. 
  7. My husband Doug guessed that a baby bat is called a battie.  Actually they are called pups.  Most bat species only have one pup a year. 
  8. Bats are the #1 predator of night-flying insects.  One Little brown bat can eat about 1,000 mosquitoes in an hour.  (Source: Bat Conservation International)   Fruit bats pollinate plants and help disperse seeds. 
  9. Trick question.  If you were “blind as a bat” you would actually have pretty good eyesight that you would use for long distance orientation.  Bats that eat fruit and flowers rely on both vision and their sense of smell to find food.  But because insect-eating bats hunt at dusk and after dark, they don’t depend on their eyes much for hunting.  These bats use echolocation (sonar) to find their prey. They can detect and capture an insect in one second (Source: CT DEP).
  10. Conservationist J. David Bamberger, who made millions with Church’s Fried Chicken, built a cave for bats on his 5,500 acre Bamberger Ranch Preserve in Austin TX.  In 2004, more than 5,000 Mexican Free tailed bats were born in his manufactured cave. 

BONUS QUESTION:  Unfortunately, there is no answer – yet.  Research is ongoing.  Since it was first discovered in 2006, die-offs of up to 90% of hibernating bats have been documented in caves and mines in NY, VT, MA and CT, and possibly in PA.  They mysterious problem is called White-Nose syndrome because a dusting of white fungus is often seen on the noses of sick bats.

Next week:  What to do if you have bats in your belfry and the best kind of bat house.

Originally published in the Villager newspapers on October 31, 2008






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