Why Do Bats Sleep Upside Down? Learn Amazing Facts About Bats | Kidadl


Why Do Bats Sleep Upside Down? Learn Amazing Facts About Bats

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Ever seen a bat sleeping upside-down and wondered how is blood not rushing to its head?

Reminisce the time you were hanging upside down and slowly started feeling blood pool in your head. Now imagine that this is a bat's most comfortable position - bizarre right?

A bat is an extraordinary flying mammal that can hang upside down with the help of its claws and be the most relaxed bat in the world. It is able to do that due to its compact size. Its exceptional heart can flow blood to every part of its body even while it is hanging with its bottoms up! The claws of a bat are unique and do not require energy to maintain a grip on something they have clasped. It possesses unique tendons that keep the claws and toes fixed.

Read on to learn more about how and why this flying mammal hangs upside down. If you enjoy this article, why not also read about why do cats like boxes? and why do cats stick their tongue out here on Kidadl?

What other mammals can hang upside down?

There are other mammals that can hang upside-down like bats, such as sloths and manatees. Surprisingly, humans are also mammals that can hang upside down comfortably for 1 minute 30 seconds and survive rather uncomfortably. Safe to say, no mammal can last in this highly uncomfortable position as long as the bat as the bat's anatomy allows it to do so for long durations!

Bats, however, are the only flying mammals, and animals as a matter of fact, that spend the majority of their day hanging from a tree branch. They are able to do that due to their compact size. Their extraordinary heart can flow blood to every part of their body even while they are hanging with their bottoms up. They can raise their juveniles, feed themselves, sleep a sound sleep, as well as roost in this position as easily as humans breathe! Evolution has gifted these flying mammals with such an exceptional ability so that they can fly easily and not pay attention to their flaws such as their weak hind limbs or the less lift capacity of their wings. Evolution allows creatures to adjust to their surroundings and survive easily. Thus, as bats could not get off the ground to fly due to their extra body weight, it is believed that they were revolutionized so as to fly immediately while they drop from above in an upside-down posture. This way, the tendons of these flying mammals will keep their toes locked as well. Bats can achieve flight in a simpler way without much effort as gravity favors them. Their flight is even quicker than birds as birds have to push themselves against the force of gravity. Interestingly, bats poop and pee normally while hanging upside-down, and the bat poop simply drops to the ground. If they are in flight, they may control it until they reach the ground!

What other birds can hang upside down?

Birds such as the nuthatch, parrots, parakeets, cockatiels, and weavers are able to hang upside down - and can do so comfortably. However, they cannot do it for longer periods of time like the bats can. Bats are not birds or insects, they are flying mammals that are quite different from birds. The flight of a bat can be differentiated from that of a bird on the basis of the weight of each of the animals, particularly the ratio of lift capacity of wings to the weight.

Most bird species can fly instantly into the air from being in an upright motionless position on the ground. However, a bat cannot do that due to its weak limbs and wings. Birds are also known to jump into the air as doing so gives them a head start for a flight in a particular direction. After this, their wings manage to take them higher. Bats are believed to perch and roost upside-down due to many reasons, one of them being that they can't jump into the air from a state of being motionless as their wings do not possess the suitable lift capacity in relation to their weight. Birds can do so as they possess hollow bones. However, even though bats cannot jump into the air and fly like a helicopter from a state of stillness, they are still quite amazing and exceptional mammals. They are flying mammals whose ancestors dwelled in trees and preyed upon small-sized insects that they spotted crawling on the tree trunk. As it seemed hard for these animals to chase an insect on a tree, these animals are believed to have waited, while facing downwards, for the insect to crawl up. This way, these animals could catch the insect easily by running downwards. They utilized their mouth and talons to catch food and are known to have hung by their hind legs. This caused an adaption of their talons that let the tendons grasp the tree branches tightly as they hung from them. This adaption is the reason why these animals can drop down, and not use any energy. As gravity helps them the most when in this position, a sight of bats sleeping this way is quite common. This position conserves their energy and is considered to be favorable as energy saved is used during hibernation. Sleeping under the tree branches also provides these animals protection from predators.

Greater horseshoe bat.

How long can a bat sleep upside down?

Bats are unique creatures that can stay upside-down for a very long duration. They can stay like that when they sleep and when they hibernate. They can sleep for approximately 19 hours in this uncomfortable-looking position. Their hibernation typically spans between five to six months, majorly dependent upon the body fat they were able to story prior to it. A bat can also remain upside-down after it has died as its toes are tightly locked. Once the legs and toes are clasped, gravity keeps the bat hanging.

Bats are nocturnal creatures, meaning that they are energetic throughout the night and sleepy throughout the day. They have not shown much activity throughout the daytime. They have been observed to show a higher amount of activity around the time of sunset, as this is the time they come out of their roosts and forage actively. They spend the majority of their time grooming, sleeping upside-down, and communicating with other bats. This position is apt to take off quickly if the bat senses any type of threat or if it spots prey. Dissimilar to birds, bats do not jump into the air to get a headstart for a flight like birds as they can't take themselves off the ground. Their anatomy requires them to swoop 2-3 ft (0.6-0.9 m) into the flight before they go higher. This is because the wings of these bats cannot produce sufficient lift. This they swoop down from a high spot and then fly upwards. Although, a few of the bat species could be better at maneuvering as compared to birds. They do not stand on their legs as then they will need to balance on their legs, which they can't tolerate as they have weak legs. Hanging from a tree branch consumes less energy, and thus is considered to be favorable by them. Birds on the other hand can easily stand on both of their legs.

Do all bat species sleep upside down?

No, not all species of bats sleep upside down. There are approximately 1240 species of bats that exist on Earth, and out of them, six known species of bats do not sleep in this way. These six species belong to two unique families. One family is Myzopodidae that is found in Madagascar and the other is Thyropteridae that is found in South America. Myzopodidae is extremely rare and consists of only one species.

Bats can also fly by running, however, their hind legs are very weak and tiny to fly off from a dead stop. This causes the bat to utilize its claws to climb up to a high spot, from which it will let go of itself and swoop down into flight. Sleeping bats can also dodge danger easily as hanging upside-down allows them to spread their wings and immediately fly off. Sleeping in this position is as comfortable and relaxing for bats as its for humans to sleep on a bed. When it is rest time for bats, they find a suitable tree branch to grasp, fall into their sleeping position, and then they simply let go. The tendons of a bat are joined with their upper bodies directly, unlike those of humans that are connected with muscles. When the bats let go, their upper body weight is pulled down on the tendons. These tendons are attached to the claws of these bats, and thus, result in the claws getting locked tightly. The talons are locked tightly with the help of the weight of the bat. No energy of the bat is consumed in keeping their grip on the talons tight. Their anatomy is so efficient, that even after the bat is dead, it will remain hanging in its sleeping posture until someone intervenes. Interestingly, if bats could sleep on the ground, they would look like they were sitting ducks!

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for why do bats sleep upside down? Learn amazing facts about bats, then why not take a look at why do huskies talk? Do huskies talk or are they just vocal? or why do animals have tails? A fun filled tale of tails.

Written By
Rhea Nischal

<p>A background in Business Administration and Management from MCM DAV College, Rhea has led her to work for her father's global business. However, her passion for content production, where she manages operations to ensure all processes run smoothly. Outside of work, she enjoys playing the piano and spending time with her one-year-old nephew.</p>

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