You may have seen bats hanging down the tree in your backyard. If not, you definitely must have come across them in books or folklore. In case your mind goes to the classic supernatural and vampire angle, then do not worry. You are not the only one!
But in all of these depictions, have you ever looked close enough to spot a tail? Well, if you just read between the lines, you probably have the answer to your question already. This article, however, will take you beyond just the answer.
It has got fun-fact shockers that you never heard of! So, without any further ado, let us get right into it!
Do Bats Have Tails?
There are just about 1000 varieties within the bat species. If one started listing the names of those that do have tails, it would take too long. It would rather be smarter to name the three varieties that do not have tails.
But there you go, yes, bats do have tails. At least a majority of them. Is that not interesting? When you think of a mammal (yes, bats are mammals), you might think of one with a long slender, tail.
Unlike that typicality, bats are known to have such tiny tails that they are extremely difficult to spot. Think about it. That kind of observation cannot be made in the dark when they are awake. Not to mention zooming through the air.
Luckily for you, extensive researches and studies have also shown that bats’ tails vary in size too. The categorization is based upon the anatomical features and is respective to most of the species.
Say, for example, you happen to spot a free-tailed bat zooming from above you. At other times, the tail could be so small that you would not be able to distinguish it from the wing membrane even in a clear light.
All of these little things depend on what species of bats live in your area. And why wouldn’t that be the case? Even cats and dogs have so many breeds. And within each, the personalities and behavior traits change, just like their looks!
The tail tale: what is the bat tail all about?
A bat’s tail is like a downward continuation of its winged-membranes. Did you know that in most of the species, the hind legs are partly or completely connected to another membrane? It is known as the uropatagium membrane.
Why it becomes relevant is because it further covers the tail bone of the bat. The fact that their hind legs give support to their tails is proof enough. From a tail skeleton, you could see a distinct cartilaginous extension right by the ankles that also offer this support.
Hey, if you are a biology and zoology enthusiast, and have access to a model, then look it up! It is known as the calcar.
So, you already know that a bat tail is covered-up in the uropatagium membrane. Usually, it is simply not long enough to protrude out of it. However, the few species that do have long enough tails appear naked and membrane-less to us.
Interestingly, that is not the case! There are membranes within the tail. They are heavily covered with tiny hair. Could you imagine that some species even have their patterns of hair?!
Bat tails and bird tails: are they similar at all?
Did you wonder if they are any similar to bird tails as soon as you found out that bats have them too? If you did, the answer is no. Bat tails are not half as similar to bird tails as they would seem.
Were you surprised? Well, you might be forgetting that dissimilar to, or unlike bats, birds are not mammals with the ability to fly! Meaning, the anatomical and morphological aspects of both flyers have naturally got to be different, right?
Do bats use their tails to fly? How?
In case you have found yourself wondering this little question, you might be on to something. Good job, you!
Just like birds, bats also use their tails to fly. Go ahead, look up a video of how bats fly. You will make some distinct observations, for sure.
Studies have shown that bats can take-off from a plain surface solely because of their tail. Their hind legs are not strong enough to afford that. They flutter their tails much faster than their wings that give them that kind of a lift.
It does not matter how long or short a bat’s tail is. Interestingly enough, these tails are further partly responsible for their sense of direction, balance, and stability.
Is there more to a bat’s tail than helping it fly?
There are two main aspects apart from flying, in which tails serve a great purpose to the bats. Firstly, bats with long tails can bring their prey to their mouth.
Secondly, females need to post birth-giving. Together with wings and membranes, the mother carries her tiny baby within a blanket tied together with her tail.
A quick wrap up
So as you saw, your suspicion was right! Bats do have tails. At least most of them do. They use these tails for flying, getting a sense of direction and stability too.
They are nothing like the tails of different birds. However, it is just an interesting fact that bats use their tails for unique purposes. Including hunting and bringing their prey closer to their mouth.
And of course! The motherly thing to help protect the newborn in the tight and warm blanket.
There is always a tiny detail hidden within each element of nature, waiting for you to see it. Only then will you acknowledge it and be surprised! Be it different life-forms or their mechanisms. Nature has made sure to amuse us every instant.
If only one is bothered enough to observe and dig into it furthermore!