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Bats

Mouse-eared bat hunting a mothMouse-eared bat hunting a moth Several kinds of mammals can glide through the air for short distances, but bats are the only mammals that can truly fly. Their wings are made of skin stretched tightly between the long fingers of their hands and their ankles. Most bats eat insects or small mammals, but a few feed on pollen, nectar and fruit. There are two main groups of bats: one is the megabats, also called fruit bats or flying foxes; the second, the microbats, includes all the other bat families. The megabats eat fruit, nectar and pollen, while most microbats eat insects or other animals and use echolocation to hunt their prey.

Flying foxFlying fox
A flying fox in a banana treeA flying fox in a banana tree

Flying foxes

The flying foxes live in the tropics of Asia, Africa and Australia. They have fox-like heads, and feed mostly on plant material, including fruits, flowers, nectar and pollen. They use their large eyes and keen sense of smell to find their food.

Flying foxes have long, jointed thumb-claws which they use to hold fruit while they are feeding. Their thumb-claws and feet also enable them to be expert tree-climbers; they can move nimbly through the branches in their search for fruit. Their wings are fragile, but they are strong and quick to heal if torn.


Male flying fox with his Male flying fox with his "harem" of females

Bats make up around one-fifth of all species of mammals in the world today.

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