The term “Chiroptera” is derived from the Greek word “hand-wing” in reference to a bat’s webbed hand-like wings. Chiroptera is the scientific classification of bats. There are thousands of bat species all over the world, but all species can fall under one of two main categories of bat, Micro-Chiroptera and Mega-Chiroptera; colloquially referred to as microbats and megabats. Although related species, these two types are quite different. Continue reading to learn the difference between Megachiroptera and Microchiroptera, and some interesting facts about them as well!
Megabats, or Megachiroptera, are also known as fruit bats. This is because, unlike micros, megas primarily eat fruit, the nectars of fruit, or the pollen of flowers and plant-life; like Eucalyptus or fig trees. This diet is the reason why they have such an important ecological role. They assist in pollination of plants and flowers, as well as, seed dispersal through their droppings, which double as a fantastic fertilizer.
The most common and prevalent species of fruit bats are Flying Foxes. As for sight, megabats have a broad visual cortex, allowing them enhanced visual acuity. They have really large eyes that look similar to a human! They also have great smell, and do not use echolocation. They also have furry bellies, big ears, and dog-like facial structures.
Another interesting fact about megas is their ability to control and maintain their body temperature. This eliminates their need to hibernate during the winter and cold seasons. They like to live in large colonies and groups, often times with different species, in the upper canopies of forests and woodlands. They are very nomadic and can travel great distances at night while foraging for food.
Microbats, or Microchiroptera, are quite different from megas. They are more solitary, living in smaller colonies of the same species. Although not blind like the myths claim, they do echolocation, a sonar-like ability, to navigate in the dark and hunt for food.
Along with echolocation, Micros have large ears and good hearing that also helps in hunting for food at night. They are much smaller as well, hence the “micro” instead of the “mega”. Some are as small as a moth! They primarily eat insects and small prey like amphibians, birds, and fish; but some species consume the blood of mammals as their food source.
Unlike the megabats, Micro-Chiroptera lack the claw on the toe of their forelimb. This is a common distinction between the two species. They are fur-less and exposed, leading them to seek warm shelter and hibernate for the winter. This is where bats can become a nuisance to home and property owners. Scroll down and look below for more information about this matter and more.
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