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Health & science

(De)Mythologizing Bats

Some facts about bats

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Published 10/31/2007

There are more than 1,100 bat species on Earth; one of every five mammal species is a bat.

A bat can eat more than 1,000 mosquitoes a night, with moths and beetles for dessert.

Next time you drink a margarita, thank the bats — they pollinate the agave plant that is made into tequila.

Bats don't have a bad rap everywhere — in Mayan cultures, bats were revered as gods; in China, bats are symbols of good luck.

Bats hang upside down because their feet articulate with their big toes on the outside and their pinkies on the inside, so it's easier to grab onto things backward and hang upside down.

Michigan's largest bat is the hoary bat; the smallest is the eastern pipistrelle that weighs as much as two pennies.

Bats mate in September, but the females store the sperm until they're ready to be knocked up in April.

Bats are Michigan's longest living wild animal; some little browns have lived as long as 34 years.

When they're hibernating, bats' heartbeats slow to 11 beats a minute. When they're flying, their hearts beat more than 1,000 times each minute.

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