Scientific Name
Various in the order Chiroptera
Geographic Range
North and Central America; big brown bats range into South America
Fruit, nectar, insects (depending on species)

About These Animals

Bats are the only mammals capable of flight. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, which can be greatly informative about their diet. For instance, insect-eating bats largely rely on echolocation and often have exceptionally large ears, while fruit-eating bats often have large eyes to visually find food. With roughly 1,400 species worldwide, bats make up roughly 20 percent of all living mammals.

Did You Know?

  • Bats fill multiple ecological niches throughout their range. Some eat fruit and disperse the seeds. Some eat nectar and help pollinate various plants. Others eat insects, contributing to insect population control and mitigating the spread of insect-borne diseases and agricultural damage. In the U.S. alone, insectivorous bats save farmers more than $53 billion per year.
  • The skeletal structure of a bat’s wing is very similar to that of a human hand or a dolphin fin. A bat’s wing consists of five elongated digits connected by a thin membrane, or patagium.
  • There are eight species present in the Chicago area. At Nature Boardwalk, common species include big brown bats, eastern red bats, and evening bats.



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