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Five Fun Facts About Bats

red bat in a tree
Red bat. Photo by Paul Dacko.

What is the only mammal that can fly? The bat! There are more than 1,330 species of bats in the world and nine of those species have been documented in Cook County within the last four decades. Big brown, eastern red and hoary bats are the most common, but silver-haired bats may be spotted during their migration.

You may not see these nocturnal creatures very often, so read on for five fun facts about bats.

  • Bats consume large amounts of insects, including mosquitoes. One brown bat can eat thousands of insects a night, over half its body weight. This helps foresters and farmers protect their crops from pests.
  • Several medicines come from plants that rely on bats for their survival and bats have played a crucial role in medical research. Studying the way bats use echolocation has helped scientists develop navigational aids for individuals who are blind.
  • Bats have belly buttons!
  • Some bats can reach speeds of 100 miles per hour and can live to be more than 40 years old.
  • Bats are important pollinators! There are more than 300 species of fruit that rely on bats for pollination, including bananas and avocados.

Want to learn more about bats and other local wildlife? Visit one of the Forest Preserves’ six nature education centers to talk to a naturalist!