7 Interesting Things You Didn’t Know about Bat Birth
When you visualize a bat, your mind may automatically go to a flying creature in the night. And when you think of an animal flying – your mind may go to birds, right? Because bats can fly, you may assume that bats lay eggs just like birds…however, this is simply not the case.
Believe it or not, bats don’t hatch eggs at all! Instead – bats give birth once a year to one baby bat!
And in even more interesting news – a baby bat is actually called a pup! Sounds more like a dog than a bird if you ask me.
Bats are mammals, and a mother bat will take care of their pups until they grow up and are able to take care of themselves.
But that’s not even the most interesting part! Keep on reading for the full details about bat birth, and 7 interesting things that you may have never guessed!
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 similarly 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.
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 that 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.
So what do bats do in the winter? You may think that bats are only active during the warmer months, but the truth is – some hibernate, while others strange their migratory patterns and find someplace warm to reside!
Check out our article on what bats do during the winter for an in-depth look.
Bats Gather in Colonies to Give Birth
As I touched upon above, bats often gather in colonies called “maternity roosts” during their birthing season.
Their birthing season, which is also called maternity season, takes place between late May and 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 that prioritize family life.
And it’s during this time that you may start to see bats around your home and yard. Bats are attracted to your yards and homes for a number of reasons, and we have all the deets in our previous article!
It’s Illegal To Harm A Bat
One very important note, especially during a bat maternity season – It is illegal to harm a bat at any time, but you can face even more penalties (depending on your state) for harming a bat during the 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 that 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.
In many cases, bats leave on their own – and we have a whole article dedicated to why they will and how likely they are to leave!
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 humid climates.
However, when referring to bats in general, many people are speaking about the little brown bat. The little brown bat is 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 from 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 bat’s 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 nurturing 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 similarly 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 as other mammals – such as having a four-chambered heart, hair, and different types of teeth.
Zack is a Nature & Wildlife specialist based in Upstate, NY, and is the founder of his Tree Journey and Pest Pointers brands. He has a vast experience with nature while living and growing up on 50+ acres of fields, woodlands, and a freshwater bass pond. Zack has encountered many pest situations over the years and has spent his time maintaining and planting over 35 species of trees since his youth with his family on their property.
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