What do bats eat besides insects?

Bat box

The diet of native bat species consists mainly of insects. However, the different bat species have very different eating habits. Some of them pick up beetles from the forest floor, while others specialize in flying insects.

We take a closer look at the different eating habits and individual food sources here.

Mouse-eared bat, pipistrelle & Co.

The Great mouse-eared keeps an eye out for ground beetles, centipedes, spiders and beetle larvae while in flight, just above the forest floor.

The water bat, on the other hand, catches its food above the surface of the water. Mosquitoes and caddis flies make up the bulk of their diet. The water bat is also able to catch smaller fish.

The Giant noctule bat often flies several hundred meters above the ground while locating its prey. Like a falcon, it pounces at high speed on large moths and beetles.

And the pipebat? It mainly eats mosquitoes, which it catches with agile movements in the light of street lamps.

Energy requirements of a bat

Hunting in flight costs the bat a lot of energy. In order to replenish this deficit, every bat has to eat between 20 and 50 percent of its own body weight every day. For a water bat this corresponds to a daily food intake of about 3000 mosquitoes. In order to capture this amount, she makes about 10 movements per minute.

Not only native bat species eat insects. The largest bat colony in the world, which consists of around 20 million Mexican bulldog bats, devours around 1,000 tons of insects per day. In this way, bats help prevent large insect pests.

Vegetarian bats

About 30 percent of the bats have a purely vegetarian diet. Mainly fruits from the tropical forests are on their menu. Since bats digest quickly, they contribute significantly to the spread of the plants by excreting undigested fruit components and seeds.

Flower bats however, use their long tongue to get to the nectar in the calyxes. The South American long-tongue bats have perfected this type of feeding. Like hummingbirds, they shake their flight skins so that they can stand in the air.

Vampire bats

Vampire bats are the only mammals in the world that feed on the blood of other living things. There are only three bat species that belong to the group of vampire bats:

  • Common vampire
  • Comb tooth vampire
  • White-winged vampire

The three types occur exclusively in North and South America. The bats have heat-sensitive sensors that they can use to detect veins under the skin of their opera. They bite their victim with their razor-sharp teeth, and then lick the blood up with their tongues. With their saliva, they prevent the blood from clotting while drinking. Vampire bats are hunted in their homeland as they can transmit rabies and other diseases.