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What Are Megabats and Microbats?

Bats are one of the most fascinating creatures on Earth! Not only are they the only mammal capable of true flight, but they are valuable components of our surrounding ecosystem and environment. There are more than 100,000 species of bats found around the world. Although there are thousands of species, each can be placed into one of two categories. Megachiroptera and Microchiroptera. Keep reading to learn the difference between mega and microbats, as well as some interesting facts and characteristics about each.

Microcopters

Microbats, or Microchiroptera, are also colloquially referred to by many other names. including Echolocating bats, little bats, insectivorous bats and true bats. They are most famous for their use of echolocation. Echolocation, also called biological sonar, is a sonar-like method used to map a grid of bats’ environments. Although bats are not blind as most myths suggest, they require the use of such methods to find food and hunt their prey. It works by emitting small beeps or calls into the environment and listening for the echoes to bounce off objects around them. Various animals in the animal kingdom use biological sonar. such as dolphins, whales, moose and some species of cave birds.

Microbats are small, some as tiny as 2 grams! They have big ears, but very small eyes. They generally eat insects. However, larger species of Microchiroptera actually hunt small prey such as frogs, lizards, rodents, and even birds or fish. Vampire bats are a type of Microbat that drink the blood of their prey. Common Microchiroptera species include the Spotted Bat, Bumblebee Bat, Inland Forest Bat, Leaf-Nosed Bat, Northern Free-Tailed Bat, Horseshoe Bat, and the Spear-Nosed Bat.

Megacopters

Megachiroptera, or megabats, are much larger than micros. They can weigh up to 4 pounds and have a wingspan of up to 5 or 6 feet! They have very large eyes and a much wider wingspan. They are generally found in tropical climates, where the weather is hot and humid. Unlike microbats, Megachiroptera do not use biological sonar to locate and hunt for food. Instead, they use their keen eyesight and sense of smell to find their favorite meals. such as pollen, nectar, plants and ripe fruit. Correctly; Megabats do not eat insects or small prey like their cousins, the microbats. In fact, megabats are often referred to as “fruit bats” or “old world fruit bats.”

Their feeding habits contribute substantially to the distribution of flower pollen and fruit seeds. This relationship is a form of mutualism called chiterophily and describes how bats and plants help each other. Common Megabat species include all Flying Foxes, the Hammerhead Bat, the Long-tongued Nectar Bat, the Egyptian Fruit Bat, and the Snub-nosed Bats.

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