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Bat ( Ialtóg)--:Bats are mammals, this means they have a covering of fur or hair on their body and give birth to live babies which they suckle until they are old enough to look fter themselves. Bats are the only mammals capable of true flight There are more than a thousand species of bats found around the world. There are seven types of bat found in Ireland. Six of these bays belong to the “vesper bat” group. These bats have very long ears. The bats found in Ireland are --: 
the Long Eared bat, Daubenton's  bat, Natterer's  bat, Leisler's bat, Whiskered bat,and the  Pipistrelle bat – the most  common bat  found in Ireland

The seventh type of bat is known as the Lesser Horseshoe bat and it has a type of horseshoe like growth around its mouth, that’s how it got its name. All bats have very sharp pointy teeth. Ireland largest bat is the Leisler’s bat and the Pipisterelle bat is the smallest. A bat got caught up in my Mum’s hair. The leisler bats are usually found in the east of the country. The smallest is the pipistrelle.

They make squeaky noises to communicate. The bat eats flying insects like moths, dragon  flies and mayflies. Sometimes they eat spiders and beetles. They sleep in the day hanging upside down in the dark  caves  or in attics. They are also found in woodland areas, especially near water where they will find plenty of insects as food. Bats use a special technique to see where they are going in the dark. This is often called radar but it is more correctly called sonar or simply, 'echolocation'. A bat produces a high pitched sound normally beyond the hearing range of humans. When the sound hits against the object, an echo is produced which travels back to the bat. Just as we produce a picture of our surroundings using our eyes, bats produce a picture of their surroundings using sound. Bats will not deliberately fly into your hair. Even if they switch off their echolocation, they will still be able to see us as  they are not blind, like most people think.

They do not have great eyesight, but they can see.that is why you will hear people saying to others “your as blind as a bat”, but this is not really true as they can see as well as hear.

Bats hibernate from October until March. All seven Irish bats hibernate. Bats live during the winter in rock formations such as caves and cellars and undergo very strange body changes to enable them to survive without feeding for several months. Bats maintain a body temperature of 37'C but during hibernation, a bat will lower and maintain its body temperature at or below 10'C. As a bat enters hibernation, its heartbeat falls from a level of several hundred beats per minute to about a figure of 5-20 beats a minute, the blood flow around the body is reduced and breathing becomes much slower.  The energy needed to sustain a bat in hibernation is stored as body fat,which the bat builds up during long feeding periods in Autumn. Hibernating bats do not like to be disturbed by anything or anybody. A bat with a body temperature of 10'C takes at least 15 minutes to wake up and fly away from danger. If a bat wakens too often during hibernation it could die before winter ends.

They hibernate because food is scarce  around at the Autumn time of year. All Irish bats eat insects which they catch in the air or take from branches or of trees or even from the ground mostly between dusk and dawn. A wide range of insects is eaten, including tiny midges, large moths, beetles, caddis-flies,daddy long-legs, earwigs and spiders. Bats mate in the autumn. One baby bat is  born in the spring. Its mother carries it for 3 weeks until it can fly.

Bats are not harmful and people should not be afraid of bats. Kenneth’s sister got a pet bat. 

Bats are protected in Ireland under the Wildlife Act of 1976.

Gerard Stubbs