Are Bats Mammals? Everything You Need To Know

Are Bats Mammals?

Bats are found in different species all over the world. These nocturnal animals who love sleeping upside down are often given a bad reputation and villanized by us. 

Many owe this to its hauntingly red eyes that glow in the dark and their strange leathery wings and body.

But the main cause for concern and why we have made them so evil in our eyes is because there is much uncertainty when it comes to these strange, winged yet furry creatures. 

Are they birds? Or are they rodents with wings? Do they belong to the mammalian family of animals?

The answer to that last question is yes, bats are absolutely mammals, making up one-fifth of the mammal population on the earth.

There are over 1000 species of them spread about globally, and thus they are one of the most prominent members of the Class Mammalia.

It’s time the record is set straight and we understand the fascinating world of this curiously misunderstood animal.

But First, What Is A Mammal?

To be classed in the mammalian category, an animal must have the following characteristics :

  • Live Birth: Mammals give birth to the live offspring, as opposed to laying eggs.
  • Respiration: All mammals breathe with their lungs
  • Endothermic: Mammals are ‘warm blooded’ animals which means that they have the ability to regulate their body temperature according to the needs of their surroundings.
  • Vertebra: They have a vertebra or a backbone that allows them to stand up straight.
  • Hair or Fur: Apart from a few marine animals that have evolved to remove their fur, the majority of mammals have hair or fur covering their bodies.
  • Milk: Mammal mothers have mammary glands to feed their young ones
  • Social Behavior: They are able to form complex social systems compared to other classes, and can even form hierarchies within them.

How Do Bats Compare?

To answer the central question here of whether bats are mammals, it’s only right that we go down the list and see how bats compare.

Bat’s Reproduction

Like most mammals, bats give birth to live babies. A fun fact you might not have known is that bats give birth while being upside-down! The babies are then caught in the mother’s pouch.

The gestation period for a bat can range anywhere from six weeks to nine weeks. 

Just like us humans, they are also placental mammals. What this means is that the baby is connected to the mother by an umbilical world, through which it receives its nutrients and gets rid of its wastes.

Do Bats Respire With Their Lungs?

Like all mammals, bats use their lungs for respiration. They breathe in oxygen and breathe out carbon oxide, just like we all do!

Bats are renowned in the mammalian class for their incredibly efficient breathing system.

Not only do they have a larger lung capacity than other non-flying mammals, but they can also use up to 60 percent of this lung capacity with each breath.

Bats also have a special protein in them called myoglobin, which facilitates their ability to have sustained flight. 

This protein is also useful for increasing the efficiency of the transfer of oxygen from the blood to all the different organs and muscles.

Are They Endothermic?

Reptiles like snakes and lizards are cold-blooded, which means that they rely on the conditions of their environment for regulating body temperature.

Mammals, on the other hand, have the ability to do this by themselves. Bats, thus, are considered to be warm-blooded animals with an endothermic system.

They utilize their food and convert it into energy and use this energy to preserve and maintain their body heat.

Do Bats Have A Veterbra?

Just like all mammals, bats have a vertebra as well, made of bones, muscles, and tendons. It protects the spinal cord and provides support and stature to the animal.

Do Bats Have Hair Or Fur?

Many believe that bats have feathers, which is where the confusion as to if they are birds comes up, but bats actually have fur.

Bats have fur on their bodies and not on their wings. The color of the fur can be brown, tan, grey, and so on. Some species of bats are born with their fur while others develop it as they grow up.

Do They Produce Milk?

Yes, they produce milk. After they are born, they feed on their mother’s milk for a period of up to three weeks old. They are then taught to fly, after which they stop relying on their mother for sustenance and catch insects on their own.

Bat’s Social System

Bats have a complex social system with hierarchies, just like other mammals. They have a very diverse mating system, with many adopting polygynies. They don’t have fixed social or mating systems and can be seen changing their partners and mating grounds pretty often.

Are Bats Mammals Or Marsupials?

Marsupials are characterized by premature birth and continued development in the mother’s pouch, while the newborn stays latched onto the nipples on the mother’s lower belly.

Bats, on the other hand, give birth to fully developed live babies, even if they have pouches. And thus, they are mammals and not marsupials.

Why Are Bats Considered As Mammals?

Just like other mammals, bats breathe air through their lungs, give birth to live babies, are ‘warm-blooded’, have fur, and have mammary glands to feed their young ones.

Since they meet all these criteria, they are considered to be a mammal.

Do Bats Lay Eggs Or Give Birth?

As discussed above, bats are mammals and so they give birth to live babies.

They have a gestation period that can range from six to nine weeks, wherein the mother and baby are connected via an umbilical cord. The bats then give birth to the live baby bats after the gestation period.

Do Bats Give Birth Through Their Mouth?

No! This is a very common misconception. Bats do not, in fact, give birth through their mouth.

They have a similar sexual activity to humans and give birth upside down, holding the babies in their pouch.

What Is The Lifespan Of A Bat?

Although most bats live to a maximum of 30 years in the wild, scientists have found some extraordinary cases where some specific species have lived more than 30 years, and one even to an astonishing record of 41!

In Conclusion

That was the fascinating world of the only flying mammal, bats! They meet all of the criteria just as any other mammal does, and thus belong to the Class.

They have some evolved capabilities like sustained flying and echolocation, but that does not change the fact that they are primarily mammals.

It is the adaptation to their environment that has allowed them to have such incredible feats.

Hope your doubts regarding this confusingly curious animal have been cleared, and that you also learned something new along the way. Thank you for reading!

Related Articles You May Like

Scroll to Top