Baby Bats

The story of how baby bats come into being is a strange one. Mating for northern hemisphere bats takes place during the summer months.

But a delay in fertilization or in embryo development during hibernation means the babies don't get born until the following spring!

Like human babies, baby bats (also known as pups) feed on milk. And another thing that they've got in common is baby talk or babbling.

This is a pretty recent discovery (2006) and scientists think that this might be how pups learn the vocal patterns they'll need later in life like mating calls.

Speaking of vocal patterns, pups make sure they're not ignored by letting out high pitched squeaks. Each pup must have unique squeaks as their mums use them and their scent to identify their young.

When a bat is born, it's furless and blind, but within a week, insectivorous bats have opened their eyes. They've started to grow fur and as long as conditions are right in the roost (e.g. warm enough temperatures), growth and development happen quickly.

An infant born in June can be almost ready to fend for itself by August. All throughout this time, the mother will feed it milk so finding enough food is vital. (It must be a relief when their young can finally get their own grub!)

Before this can happen though, the young bats need to go out with the rest of the roost. During this time, they perfect their flying and echolocation skills and also learn where roost sites and feeding areas are.

Insectivorous bats are usually ready to have babies of their own by the age of 2 although some take longer. This coupled with the low birth rate of most bat species (1 to 2 pups a year) could mean serious consequences for a bat population if babies don't survive.

Bad weather, lack of food and roost disturbance or loss can all mean bad news. Another danger is that pups sometimes fall out of their roosts. If you come across a grounded one, you can find out what you can do to help it on the bat removal page.

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