Suzanne Simoneau

I am a science teacher at Westminster Preparatory School in Augusta, Georgia. I have been teaching at Westminster for ten years. I teach 9th grade biology and honors biology and 12th grade anatomy. I also work with the Science Olympiad team. I have an undergraduate degree from Clemson University and a M.Ed. from the University of South Carolina. I enjoy making baskets and reading. I also enjoy learning and teaching about bats. I teach classes for the Augusta State University Kid's University summer program for elementary students on bats and insects.

The Amazing Bat
 

 

Let's learn more about bats!

First we will review what we have learned about the two main groups of bats. One group, the fruit-eating bats, have faces with large eyes and a foxlike appearance. Their faces would look very much like the family dog. They are also called megabats because of their large size. They locate their food which includes fruit, nectar, or pollen during the day by using their keen eyesight or their excellent sense of smell.

The other group, the insect-eating bats, have small eyes and often have unusual looking faces. They are also called microbats because of their smaller size. They usually search for food such as flying insects at night. Some types of microbats catch frogs, fish, birds, or rats. Some even search out sleeping animals and make small cuts to lap blood from. Today's lesson will be on the "funny faces" of the insect-eating bats.

The microbats send out pulsating "beeps" from their mouths or noses. These sounds strike objects such as insects or buildings in their path and are then returned as echoes to the bat. This is called echolocation. Using echolocation, a bat can find insects that are the size of gnats or items as tiny as a human hair. Echolocation helps bats to hunt and locate their prey and also allows them to find their way in the dark.

Many microbats have bizarre looking ears and noses that help with echolocation. The bat's nose may have additional skin folds called nose leaves. The nose leaves help direct the sounds from the nose in the right direction. Nose leaves come in many different shapes. They may look like a leaf, a horseshoe, a tube, a spear, a pig snout, or a hammer.

The microbat's ears may be in various sizes and shapes also. Some of their ears are very large and may have an extra lobe called a tragus. The tragus helps to direct sounds into the bat's ear. As unusual as these features appear, you can see that they have an important function in helping the bat to locate its food.

Microbats look very different from each other. By listening to their names, you can imagine what they might look like. They include the leaf-nosed bat, the horseshoe bat, the sword-nosed bat, the hog-nosed bat, the long-nosed bat, the hammer-headed bat, the slit-faced bat, the tube-nosed bat, and the funnel-eared bat. Aren't bats amazing?

Vocabulary to review:

microbat

megabat

echolocation

noseleaves

tragus

 

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"The views expressed on this page are not necessarily those of the University of South Carolina."

http://rpsec.usca.sc.edu/Classwork/731Sp99/Lesson/Simoneauth2.html (February, 1999)