September 23, 2011

How Do Bats Poop?

Have you ever wondered how bats pee and poop while hanging upside down without getting it all over themselves? Me neither. Nevertheless, my son and I discovered the answer today by watching some bats at the zoo. A bat, which had been hanging upside down by its feet, flipped over, hung by its wings, relieved itself, and flipped back upside down. Another one did this shortly after. I never knew that bats' arms/wings were strong enough to hold their body weight, but evidently they are, at least for a short time.

Fruit Bat at Rest (by Ben Charles)

These are the kinds of things you don't read about in textbooks. You just have to be there for the experience. I discussed this in my post a couple weeks ago, "Kick Your Kids Out of the House," and it should be self-evident, but I think it bears repeating that we learn much about the natural world, by being out in it. Science education is more than book learning!

I know I just knocked book learning, but I can't help plugging a wonderful book about a bat that gets adopted by a family of birds. The story is touching, the illustrations are excellent, and the science is good. If you haven't read Stellaluna, by Janell Cannon, please check it out. You can view the first few pages online by clicking the book cover to the left, but unfortunately you can't see the beautiful illustrations, only the text.

Question: What is something you've learned about nature just by being there to experience it?


  1. What a fascinating question! I had never thought about how bats poop before. I know that bats hibernate in caves and that the caves often have large quantities of guano on the floor, but I had never thought about how they could defecate without soiling themselves.

    I hope you don't mind but I have added a link to this blog to my Little Brown Bats Unit Study.

  2. I'm glad you found the post interesting and hope that the parents and kids who use your excellent unit study enjoy it.

  3. Anonymous10/18/2012

    I love this post! I am doing a preschool unit with the kids in my dayhome on BATS! I had never even wondered this before, but the kids got a kick out of it! For some reason 4 yearolds are fascinated by poop! haha thanks for the smile! :)

    1. I'm glad to have brightened your day.