Facts about bats

Barbastelle bat
The barbastelle bat is one of the UK's rarest bats (Photo: C Robiller)

It’s International Bat Night on 25-26 August and there’ll be bat-related events taking place all over the country that weekend, such as bat walks, talks and other activities.

Our top 11 bat facts

We’ve put together some batty facts about these amazing creatures to whet your appetite:

  1. There are 1,300 different species of bat in the world.
    And we have 18 of these species in the UK.
  2. Bat ‘wings’ aren’t wings at all!
    Bat ‘wings’ are actually hands with skin stretched between long fingers.
  3. They can fly a very long way
    Some of our bat species are thought to migrate across the English Channel – it’s a very long way for such a little creature, especially as it flies by just flapping its hands!
  4. Bats may be small, but they have big appetites
    A pipistrelle, the tiniest UK bat, can gobble up around 3,000 midges and mosquitoes in an evening!
  5. They don’t build nests
    Instead, they hang out in caves, hollow tree trunks, and buildings. This is called roosting. They may even set up home in the roof of your house!
  6. The best time to spot bats is at twilight
    They leave their roosts to hunt for insects for dinner at this time. It’s easier to see them before the sky is completely dark.
  7. Bat numbers are going down all over the world
    In the UK, they are a protected species and it’s against the law to disturb a place where bats are roosting.
  8. Next time you bite into a chocolate bar, thank a bat
    More than 500 plant species around the world rely on bats to pollinate them, and these include the cocoa plant.
  9. ‘Blind as a bat’ is a common saying. But it’s wrong!
    Bats aren’t blind but they do use their ears more than their eyes in the dark. They make squeaky noises as they fly around, and then use the echoes to navigate and find their prey. This is called echolocation.
  10. Bats can live for more than 20 years
    Scientists even found one bat that lived to be 41!
  11. Bats are mammals so give birth to their babies and feed them on their milk
    The babies grow quite big while still inside their mothers – it’s a bit like a human mother giving birth to a toddler!

Intrigued? Find batty events happening near you on International Bat Night and beyond.

Spotted any bats?

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