Fast Fact: Big Brown Bats

Did you know bats are mammals? Even though they fly like birds, they are classified as mammals. They are actually the only flying mammal.

A big brown bat. (Photo via Shutterstock)

Illinois is home to 13 species of bats. One of the most common and widespread is the big brown bat, although it’s not the biggest. That title goes to the hoary bat. Big brown bats live across almost the entire United States and parts of Mexico and Canada. They can live in almost every kind of habitat, from forests to deserts.


Big brown bats, and many other bats, eat insects — lots of insects. Big brown bats’ preferred food is beetles, but they eat a wide variety of insects that fly around at night. Why at night? Because big brown bats — and almost all bat species — are nocturnal.


And even though it’s commonly believed that bats are blind, they are not. Most bats have good vision, but they don’t rely on it to hunt. Instead, they use echolocation, which is sound waves that bounce off objects so bats know where those objects are.


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