Bat Mating Habits
Bats live in large colonies that are predominantly female, so it’s
easy for a male bat to locate a mating partner. And mate they do,
both day and night in mating season, and often with many partners.
Males and females tend to live in separate colonies until they are
ready to mate and when that time comes, the male initiates contact.
This occurs most often at night, when the male awakening the female
by biting her on the neck and then proceeding with copulation.
During the day, the male usually starts the process by rubbing his
head against the female.
Despite the often enormous size of their colonies, bats are actually
one of the slowest reproducing animals there are. They usually begin
mating at about 14 months of age and once a female is impregnated,
she usually joins other pregnant females in a maternity colony for
security and warmth.
Colonies can be quite large, with one in an Arizona cave holding an
estimated 20 million pregnant bats.
Female bats are able to manipulate the time of their pregnancy and
the birth of their young. Breeding season normally is in the spring
of the year and the gestation period can vary in length from 40 days
to as long as six months, with the female bats table to delay
implantation of the egg by storing the sperm in a reproductive tract
if there is a shortage of nutrition. In this manner, female bats can
birth up to three healthy litters, one baby at a time, in a single
Baby bats are born large, one-fifth to one-third the size of the
mother, so food supply during gestation is a significant factor.
Born blind and hairless, the pups cling to the mother’s furry
underbelly to eat and sleep, and even when she is hunting.
The babies are also born without fully developed wings but by about
two months of age they are ready to fly and begin looking for their
own food. The mothers may continue to spend time with their young
until they are up to four months of age, depending on the species of
bat. The pups’ wings develop very quickly and once they do, they are
ready to hunt on their own and the mother is ready for her next
Meanwhile, what of the male bats? Once the mating is done, they
mainly go on their own solitary way, hanging out upside down in a
tree or in a building, until it’s time to perform their reproductive
duty once again.
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