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Bats Can Swim? Oh, Yes They Can!

Bats are mammals of the order Chiroptera. With their forelimbs adapted as wings, they are the only mammals capable of true and sustained flight. Bats are more agile in flight than most birds, flying with their very long spread-out digits covered with a thin membrane or patagium. The smallest bat, and arguably the smallest extant mammal, is Kitti’s hog-nosed bat, which is 29–34 millimetres in length. Bats provide humans with some direct benefits, at the cost of some disadvantages. Bat dung has been mined as guano from caves and used as fertiliser. Bats consume insect pests, reducing the need for pesticides. Bats can eat up to 1,200 mosquitoes an hour.

Can Bats Swim?

Yes, Bats can swim and they’re surprisingly good at it. Just like the surprising truth that bats can see as well as or better than humans, it turns out they’re pretty decent at swimming, too.

The short clip comes our way from Chandigarh, India, and although we’ve seen a few winged animals swim before, we can honestly say this one took us by surprise. The creatures of the night aren’t exactly celebrated for their aquatic prowess, but we have to give it to them – those are some impressive moves.

According to the Smithsonian Musuem, bats are capable of swimming in stressful situations if the need arises, but it’s certainly not part of their usual behaviour. Some species, however, such as those belonging to the genus Pteropus (also known as megabats or flying foxes), have actually been known to brave the water in order to secure a meal.

And here's another one attempting to swim away in a pool.

A 2013 survey by Indiana State researchers found that 78 percent of the nearly 400 respondents reported seeing bats near their pools, with 13 percent reporting drowned bats. You can see video of bats stealing some sips from a pool in the video below.

“Bats drink water in-flight, so they come down, take a drink and fly out all in one motion,” said Zachary Nickerson, a student at the Center for Bat Research, Outreach, and Conservation at Indiana State University. “They can’t land and drink and take off again. So if there’s an obstruction in the way or the pool is too small or something goes wrong, they can get trapped in the pool and die.”

As to what you can do to help these unusually good swimmers in times of distress, it’s recommended that pool owners install a small ramp — similar to the kind used to help frogs and other creatures escape pools — to help the bats safely extract themselves.

And remember, if you see a bat swimming in your pool, don’t attempt to handle it yourself. Use a skimmer or some other tool to safely move the animal to a safe spot. If you absolutely need to pick up a bat, make sure you’re wearing thick gloves to prevent bites.

Source: TreeHugger

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