Mas Carnival Bat artists study real bats before they make up the dances that they perform in the parade. Why not make up your own Bat dance wearing your Bat mask and wings? Post videos online using the hash tag #kitchencarnival and/or send them to us to include in our film for Hackney Carnival Online 2021 firstname.lastname@example.org
Bats have often been misjudged by humans. Bats have been associated with vampires and horror movies; been wrongly described as ‘flying mice’; been used as a metaphor to insult visually impaired people (‘blind as a bat’ – in fact bats can see well) and people with mental health difficulties (‘batty’, meaning ‘bats in the [church bell-tower] belfry’ or unwelcome intruders in the head); and now bats have been blamed for Covid-19. Bats are fundamental to the health of the environment, but have been so disrespected that half of all bats face extinction due to their habitats being destroyed. This is why bats have had to move into buildings and cities, where they can come so close to farm animals and humans that their diseases can be shared.
- There are more than 1300 species of bat, a quarter of all mammal species. Some are tiny and some are very large.
- Bat have furry bodies, and most bats have big ears.
- Bats are nocturnal, meaning that they sleep in the day and come out at night.
- Bats are the only mammals who can fly. They can fly very high and very fast – as fast as 30 miles an hour.
- Bats’ wings are their hands, with thin skin stretched between their four fingers all the way to their back legs, and a claw-like nail on their thumbs.
- Bats mostly eat insects and fruit and suck nectar. A bat eats half of its body weight in insects each night, as well as helping to pollinate plants. Bats play a vital role in the environment.
- Some bats eat fish, frogs, rodents or lizards. There are also vampire bats in South America who suck blood from chickens and grazing animals.
- To help find their way around at night, bats use echo location – radar – as well as their eyes, making high-frequency sounds that bounce back from the surrounding environment to their ears.
- Bats spend most of their time hanging upside down when they are not flying, because they cannot stand upright due to the bottoms of their bodies being very narrow. Their bodies are too small for blood to rush to their heads as it would in humans.
- Most bats breed once a year, giving birth to just one baby each summer. Bats can find their own baby amongst thousands of other baby bats. Vampire bats will adopt orphaned babies. Bats are great parents.
- Most bats live 10-20 years. The oldest known bat was over 40 years old.
- Bats have been around for millions of years. The oldest bat fossil found is 52 million years old.
- Most bats live in large groups or colonies – one colony is known to have 22 million bats. When it gets cold, bats migrate to somewhere warmer or hibernate.
- Bats live in caves, dead trees and rock crevices. They move into human buildings only when they have no natural homes left.
- Most bats live in the tropics. In the UK, bats are officially protected against harm, but still face problems as a result of pollution and loss of habitat.
Click here to download an A4 PDF with photos of real bats and Bat Mas characters in Trinidad and Tobago.