Bats are one of the most fascinating creatures on Earth! Not only are they the only mammal capable of true flight, they are valuable components to our surrounding ecosystem and environment. There are over 100,000 species of bat found all around the world. Although there are thousands of species, every single one can be put under one of two groups; Megachiroptera and Microchiroptera. Keep on reading to learn the difference between mega and microbats, in addition to, a few interesting facts and characteristics for each.
Microbats, or Microchiroptera, can also be known colloquially by many other names; including Echolocating bats, little bats, insectivorous bats, and accurate bats. Echolocation, also referred to as bio sonar, is a sonar-like method used to map a grid out of a bats’ surroundings. Although bats are not blind, like most myths suggest, they require the use of these procedures for finding food and hunting their prey. It operates by emitting little beeps or calls out to the surrounding environment, and listening for the return of echoes bouncing off objects around them. Various animals in the animal kingdom utilize bio sonar; such as dolphins, whales, shrews, and a few cave-bird species.
Microbats are small, some as tiny as 2 g! They have large ears, but very small eyes. They generally eat insects; however, larger species of Microchiroptera actually hunt small prey like frogs, lizards, rodents, as well as fish or birds. Vampire bats are a species of Microbat that drink the blood of their prey. Common species of Microchiroptera include the Spotted Bat, Bumblebee Bat, Inland Forest Bat, Leaf-Nosed Bats, Northern Free-Tailed Bat, Horseshoe Bat, and the Spear-Nosed Bat.
They can weigh up to 4 lbs and have a wingspan of up to 5 or 6 ft! They have very large eyes, and a much wider wingspan. They are generally found in tropical climates, where the weather is moist and warm. Unlike microbats, the Megachiroptera do not use bio sonar to find and search for food. Insteadthey use their keen eyesight and sense of smell to locate their favorites foods; such as pollen, nectar, plants, and ripened fruit. That’s correct; megabats don’t eat insects or small prey like their cousins, the microbats. In fact, megabats are often times referred to as”fruit bats” or”old world fruit bats”.
Their eating habits actually lead to the supply of flower pollens and fruit seeds. This connection is a form of mutualism called chiropterophily, and clarifies how plants and bats help each other. Common species of Megabat contain all Flying Foxes, Hammerhead Bat, Long-Tongued Nectar Bat, Egyptian Fruit Bat, and Tube-Nosed Bats.