I’ve already cleared up some myths concerning bats. Hopefully you’re a little less leery of them than before, but there is still more to learn! What are the diets of our local bats? Not all bat species are alike.
Bat Diets That Probably Worry You
The bat feeding habits that make most people squeamish are the ones that make them think humans are a potential meal for bats. This is a greatly unfounded fear.
Vampire Bats do exist, but they only drink small amounts of blood, pretty painlessly too–but they never attack people! They don’t live anywhere in the Adirondacks anyway if you were still worried.
A few species of bats are carnivorous, but they only eat small frogs, lizards, fish, and birds (Smithsonian). Humans are much too big, and we pose a threat no bat would ignore. None of these bats live in New York though.
There are a few bats “that eat pollen, nectar, and in some instances, petals from flowers, but those [species] are found mainly in the tropics and semitropics” (Smithsonian). A recent article explains more about these nectar eating bats and their interesting peculiarities.
There are also a large number of bats that eat fruit–none of this type live around the Adirondacks either. Both of these types of bats are responsible for a lot of pollination and spreading of seeds that is necessary for the ecosystem to remain stable.
So, if bats in the Adirondacks don’t eat any of the above, then what do they eat? By far the majority of bats in the world eat insects– in fact, 70% of bats worldwide, and all of New York’s bats do (NYDEC).
“A bat typically will consume about 1/3 of its own body weight in food per night. This can add up fast to large numbers of insects–thousands in one night! It is estimated that four tons of insects are consumed annually by bats. Without these creatures around the number of such insects would be much too high.” (Batworlds.com)
Echolocation allows bats to hunt and easily enable them to find insects in the dark.
How Bats Drink Water
Bats of course need to drink water as well. Some species have perfected the art of flying over water, grabbing a mouthful mid-flight, and continuing on. Perhaps making a few passes of it if the bat is really thirsty. I have seen bats do this with our swimming pool.
Other types of bats who can’t do this instead land in or skim their body over the water, and then they drink the water off of their chests (Batworlds.com).
Here is a video showing bats drinking, and it explains how bats use echolocation to discover water.
Stay tuned for more of the Adirondack Bat series to find out why bats are so important to us and some serious troubles they are facing.