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Bats (Chiroptera)




Bats (Chiroptera) are the second largest order of mammals (after the rodents), representing nearly 23% of the contemporary mammalian diversity. Their modified forelimbs, supporting a wing membrane, make them the only mammals naturally capable of true flight. The order contains two suborders: the larger and less specialized Megachiroptera of the Old World (1 family, 45 genera, and 186 species), and the highly specialized and echolocating Microchiroptera (17 families, 155 genera, and over 1,000 species). There are nearly 1,240 species overall.

Bats inhabit all continents, except for Antarctica, but the greatest diversity is in the tropics. About 70% of bat species are insectivores. The rest feeds on fruit, nectar, or animals other than insects, including small warm-blooded vertebrates and fish. There are three hematophagous species (the vampire bats).


    Evening Bats
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