How do bats give birth?

Bats are some of the most unique animals out there. They’re the only mammals with wings. They use echolocation to sense their surroundings and hunt. And they even sleep upside down! So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that these animals also have a very unique
reproduction cycle.

The Timing

Unlike most other small mammals, bats only give birth once a year. They start their mating season during the fall, or even in the early winter. At a first glance, there doesn’t seem to be anything odd about the timing, but things start to get weird when you realize that many bats actually hibernate.
That means bats mate before falling into a long sleep, but what’s interesting is that the females aren’t pregnant during that time! Instead, they’re able to pause the pregnancy until after winter, when they have an abundance of food. So the real gestation period doesn’t start until early spring. Female bats are usually in gestation for three weeks. Yet some bat species spend six to nine months in pregnancy. As a result, bats tend to give birth during the summer. This tends to be between May and August.

The Preparation

As mentioned earlier, female bats are actually able to delay the pregnancy until
they’re sure they have enough food to sustain them. Thus, ensuring that they’re well-prepared to raise their young. In addition to that, bats will often group up when it’s time to give birth. They form a large colony of female bats, called a maternity roost. They then work together to raise all the young at once.

baby bat

The Birth

When it’s finally time to give birth, the female bat goes and hangs under a perch. They grab the perch with their feet and hang upside down. While upside down, the female bat pushes her child upwards. This way, the young pup emerges facing up. Yet the story doesn’t end there. This is a pretty dangerous position for the baby bat to be in. So the female bat has to take an even more dangerous risk to fix the situation.

bat upside down

She lets the baby bat fall and tries to safely catch it in her wings. Seeing as how baby bats can’t fly, this is a life or death situation for the child. But hopefully, the mother catches her child so that she can go on to raise the pup.

What Happens Afterwards

Female bats tend to give birth to only a single pup each year. That’s why the female bat spends the next three to four weeks taking close care of her only child. They sometimes do this by carrying their young with them when they go hunting, with the child hanging onto the mother as she flies. Yet, if the child is too heavy, the mother may decide to leave her child on a safe perch before going hunting. When this happens, the mother will frequently call to her child, to reassure the pup that she’s nearby. The mother will also return to her child several times to feed it.

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