When people think of birds, they often think of a mother bird building a nest and laying 2 – 3 eggs at a time. Since bats are flying creatures, many people with good reason assume that bats are also classified as birds. However, this is simply not the case.
So, do bats lay eggs? Unlike birds who lay eggs, bats are classified as mammals and give birth once a year to a baby bat. Mother bats take care of baby bats, which are also called pups, until they grow up and are able to take care of themselves.
Since bats do not lay eggs, they don’t share as many similar ties with birds as we thought. Here are seven interesting things that you didn’t know about bat birth.
Bats Give Birth Just Like Any Other Mammals
To go into a little more depth on the main question: bats do in-fact give birth to a live creature instead of an egg. The baby bat, which is also called a pup, is raised similar to any other mammal (yes, including humans).
The really cool thing about bat birth is how similar they are to the way humans, dogs, and cats all reproduce. After the mother bat gives birth to her pup, she has to continue to nurse and feed the pup as it grows older.
What bats do is entirely different from what a typical bird does. A bird, such as a sparrow, hawk, or robin, will build a nest and keep their hatchlings in the nest while they go out and get food. Birds hunt for grub and then return to feed their young by chewing the food and regurgitating it directly into the mouths of their offspring.
It’s a little less gross than it sounds, but bats feed their young similar to how humans feed their babies – they nurse them with milk until they are old enough to eat on their own.
Baby bats stay with their mothers for about 3 – 4 weeks after birth. They don’t actually move out and leave their family (unless they have a rough three-week relationship), but they start to help out around their home and begin to take shifts with their mother to hunt for food at night.
At around week 3 or 4, the baby bats are attempting to learn how to fly. They’ll often fall out of the nest and forage for food by themselves. It isn’t until 8 or 12 weeks when a baby bat may fully learn how to fly.
Most Species of Bats Give Birth to Only One Pup at a Time
Due to their size and mammal type birthing process, most bats only are able to give birth to one pup at a time. Occasionally, bats can have twin pups, but it is highly unlikely.
Bats typically like to give birth when it’s warm out and often form colonies where groups of female bats all take turns to raise the young single pup during the late spring to early summer seasons.
Bats Gather in Colonies to Give Birth
Like I touched upon above, bats often gather into colonies called “maternity roosts” during their birthing season. Their birthing season, which is also called maternity season, takes place between late May until about mid-August.
These bat maternity roosts are essentially groups of female bats who come together to take turns raising their young. Regardless of how many mother bats are in a maternity roost, all of the bats come together to form a unit to raise their young – similar to many human cultures who prioritize family life.
One very important note about bat maternity season – It illegal to harm a bat at anytime, but you can face even more penalties (depending on your state) for harming a bat during maternity season.
If you’re trying to rid a bat from your house, it becomes much more challenging to do during maternity season because if bats have taken place in your home and have given birth to a pup, you’re more than likely going to need to call an expert
The reason for this is because pups can’t fly, and you can’t harm them.
It’s a difficult and expensive combination to deal with but less difficult and expensive than it will be to deal with a hefty fine or jail time for harming bats.
Most Bat Pregnancies Last up to Nine Weeks
Bats have a somewhat long pregnancy, with most bat pregnancies lasting up to nine weeks. However, several other species of bats have a more prolonged pregnancy.
For instance, the pregnancy of a vampire bat can last up to 5 – 7 months. Vampire bats are very common in Central America, South America and Mexico due to their warmer and more humid climates.
However, when referring to bats in general, many people are speaking about the little brown bat. The little brown bat is the one of the most common types of bats in the United States.
The pregnancy of a little brown bat usually varies from 7 – 9 weeks and takes place during the late May to mid-August months. The
Bats Give Birth Hanging Upside-down
Yes, you read that right – bats give birth while they hang upside down! If you don’t believe it, go search for a video of bats giving birth. It’s truly amazing to see.
The mother bat takes her talons and grabs onto whatever perch she’s hanging from. Then while hanging upside down, she pushes her pup out of her womb towards her feet.
After giving birth and still hanging from her perch, the mother bat catches her pup in her wings to avoid letting the baby bat fall to the ground.
This requires the mother bat to have some pretty quick reflexes. If she doesn’t catch her baby directly after giving birth to it, the end result is not too good.
Remember, baby bats can’t partially fly until about 3 or 4 weeks after birth, so the mother bat absolutely has to catch her pup while upside down.
Bats Usually Mate in the Fall or Early Winter
Remember in high school or college when it was prime “cuffing” or dating season during September through November? Yeah, It’s the same way for bats
That isn’t to suggest that humans only “date” during the Fall / Early Winter months. Unlike humans, bats only mate in the Fall to early Winter.
Most bats generally mate starting in early September. The mating season typically lasts up until about mid-November as all desirable female bats are swooped up by their counterparts
Interestingly enough, male bats have a mating call that consists of high pitched chirps. To woo a female bat, the male bat will try to gain the female bats’ attention by flying next to her roost and then, will chirp at her.
Pretty smooth if you ask me.
Mother Bats Carry Their Young When They Fly
In order to keep their young safe, mother bats will actually carry their young in their wing until they are old enough to be left alone (usually 3-4 weeks).
However, if the baby bat pup becomes too heavy to carry, the mother bat will have to leave her pup on a nearby branch and stay a close distance away from her pup while scouring for food.
If the mother bat cannot carry her young any longer and has to set her pup on a branch near her food source, she will often cry out to her baby pup and give reassurance that she is still close by.
Bats are very nourishing and protective of their young and often will continue to coddle and nurture their young as they form tight bonds as a family.
How do bats get pregnant? Bats get pregnant by mating like many other mammals. Male bats will often attempt to “woo” a female bat by flying by her roost during mating season. Male bats will then chirp at female bats as a mating call. This happens from September to November when bat mating season takes place.
Do bats give birth through their mouth? A common misconception, bats do not give birth through their mouth. Bats reproduce sexually similar to humans and give birth while hanging upside down. Most bats give birth to one baby bat pup at a time but sometimes have twins.
Are bats mammals? Bats are mammals and are one of the only mammals that are capable of flight. Bats reproduce like mammals and share many of the same characteristics of other mammals – such as having a four chambered heart, hair, and having different types of teeth.