We are accustomed to seeing bats only flying around, so it would be easy to wonder if bats can actually walk on the ground instead of flying all the time.
In short, bats can actually walk, but they do it clumsily. The bats’ bodies are adapted to flying to the point that their legs mostly serve as a kind of attachment points for the surface of their wings. Since their leg bones are not designed to be moving in a way that would allow them to walk freely, crawling on the ground would require a lot of energy from bats. The knees of the bats point outward and backward, and that allows them to crawl securely on cave walls and ceilings, as well as control the shape of their wings.
Out of the thousand species of bats all over the world, many walk clumsily, and that’s why they rarely use this ability. The unique anatomy of a bat makes it difficult for the animal to actually walk. However, there are few species that have adapted to be able to walk.
The first species is the Lesser Short Tailed Bat which is native to New Zealand. This bat flies like other bats to catch its prey, but it can also walk, or crawl, on the ground to hunt. Its diet consists of food including plant material which is gathered on the ground level. The Lesser Short Tailed Bat has strong hind legs and it has claws with talons. This bat can fold its wings protectively. This walking behavior may be a result of the absence of predators; however, more recently rats and feral cats have been introduced to New Zealand, and the Lesser Short Tailed Bat may have started falling prey to these animals.
Another species that can walk is the Vampire Bat. This species, unlike any other type of bats, is an excellent walker. This ability is used to land near the prey, slowly walk over to it while it is sleeping, sense through its nose heat sensor where the blood is closest to the surface of skin, make an incision on the prey’s skin, and start feed on the blood. Approaching the prey from the ground allows the bat to be silent and make the prey sleep through the feeding. Out of the three types of vampire bats, the common vampire bat can not only walk, but also run. They use their powerful wings to propel forward.
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