The bat is a mammal animal of the order Chiroptera, whose members have a thin membrane of skin between the fingers, which extends to the legs and connects to the sides of the body, forming the wings. They are distinguished from birds, as they have feathers supported by bones. Bats are the only mammals with a true flight. In Brazil, the bat can rarely be called by its indigenous names andirá or guandira.
Almost 25% of all known mammals are bats and, throughout the intertropical region, there is a rich fauna consisting of these animals. This group covers 17 families and 177 genders. To date, 21 species of chiropterans have been invented in the central-eastern region, distributed in three families: Phyllostomidae (with 12 species), Vespertilionidae (with seven species) and Molossidae (with two species).
Traditionally, chiropterans are divided into bats themselves (suborder Microchiroptera ) and flying foxes (suborder Megachiroptera ). They represent a quarter of all mammal species in the world. There are at least 1,116 species, which have a huge variety of shapes and sizes, they can have a wingspan of five centimeters to two meters, an enormous capacity to adapt to almost any environment (they just do not occur at the poles) and a wide diversity of eating habits.
Bats have the most varied diet among mammals, as they can eat fruits, seeds, leaves, nectar, pollen, arthropods, small vertebrates, fish, and blood. About 70% of bats are insectivores, feeding on insects, and practically all the rest are frugivores, that is, they feed on fruits. Only three species feed exclusively on blood : they are the so-called blood-sucking bats or vampires, found only in Latin America. In this way, bats contribute substantially to the structure and dynamics of ecosystems, as they act as pollinators, seed dispersers, insect predators (including agricultural pests), nutrient suppliers in caves, and vectors of wild diseases, among other functions. They also have an extraordinary sense of echolocation (blossoming or echo guidance), which they use for guidance, food search, and communication.
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