Bats can eat many different things, depending on the species, where in the world they are found, and what food is available around them. The majority of these flying mammals are insect eaters, and they're damn good insect-eaters too. It's been theorized that bat species across the United States save the government millions and billions of dollars each year, just by keeping insect populations down; insects that would once have decimated garden plants and agricultural crops alike ... in just an evening or two. They use echolocation to find these insects on the wing during the night. Bats and Echolocation: How They Fly & Find Food
The little brown bat and the Big Brown Bat
are commonly found across North America, and this particular bat prefers insects that are about the same size as a mosquito. It likes them so much; it will eat over a thousand of those insects in just a couple of hours. Over one evening, an entire colony can dramatically decrease the insect population. Imagine if you were to take those bats out of the equation ... there would be too many insects, definitely not enough crops to go around, and a lot of people walking around with a lot of bug bites on their skin.
As well as mosquito, the bat will eat other insects that are around the same size too. Moths are another favorite, and you can add beetles to the list too. In fact, some bats have jaws that are perfectly adapted to chomping right through the hard shell of beetles. Bats track down bugs with echolocation, but they can also see just fine. Read about Can Bats See?
Insects aren't the only thing on the menu; other bat species, (usually more tropical ones) will eat flower pollen, fruits, and even seeds. The bats that eat insects are called insectivores, but the bats that eat a slightly more diverse menu are called frugivores.
And finally, how about vampire bats? Stuff of myth and legend or real life? You might be surprised to learn that vampire bats ARE real, but they don't exactly hang out in North America, choosing the sunnier and more tropical Southern and Central Americas instead. Being very small creatures, you probably wouldn't even notice that these bats had bitten you, let alone sucked a couple of milliliters of blood out of you. Not that you would need to worry; these vampire bats like to eat on cattle and horses, not humans. Although bites and attacks from vampire bats can happen, they certainly don't suck enough blood to harm you, nor are they looking to prey on you for their next feed.
Go back to the Bat Removal
page, or learn about bats in the attic with my Bats in the Attic
guide. If you are are reading this because you want a pet bat, read Bats ... Should we keep them as pets?