Tri-colored bat

The tri-colored bats perform a great agricultural service by eating grain moths as they emerge from corn cribs. (Ann Froschauer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

Bat Week is celebrated the last week in October. The last night in October is Halloween. What do these two things have in common? Bats play an important role in pollinating cacao plants, from which we get chocolate. Can you imagine a Halloween without chocolate bars? Talk about scary! This quiz treats you to other bat facts. How many will trick you? Answers are below.

1. Only vampire bats are able to easily move on the ground. How many of the three vampire bat species live in the Chesapeake watershed? (Those living in zoos don’t count!)

A. 0

B. 1

C. 2

D. 3

2. Bats have not changed much since they first appeared in the fossil record around 50 million years ago. The ancestors of what other mammal appeared around this time?

A. Camels

B. Elephants

C. Rhinoceroses

D. All of the above

3. Bat droppings were used to make gunpowder during the Civil War. What are bat droppings called?

A. Battling

B. Glittering

C. Guano

D. Turpido

4. Why do some bat droppings sparkle?

A. They contain the undigested exoskeletons (outer covering) from the insects they eat.

B. The bat’s digestive juices contain chemicals that glow in the dark.

C. They are extra wet and reflect moonlight.

D. Scientists haven’t figured it out yet.

5. Only one Bay state has an official state bat. It is the:

A. Maryland moth bat

B. Pennsylvania pipistrelle

C. Virginia big-eared bat

D. West Virginia flying weasel

6. Bats are NOT blind. In fact, some species have better eyesight than humans. What can these species see that we can’t?

A. Ghosts

B. Infrared light (colors below the light spectrum that are emitted by heated things)

C. Ultraviolet light (high-energy colors above the light spectrum that is visible to humans)

D. X-rays

7. True or false? Bats hear better than any other land animal.

8. How are bats like cats?

A. They have belly buttons.

B. They groom themselves — a lot.

C. Although it is very rare, they might carry rabies. Leave bats (and cats you don’t know) alone and you should be fine.

D. All of the above

9. How are bats different from birds?

A. When compared to their body sizes, bats’ brains are larger than birds.

B. Both are warm-blooded.

C. When flying, birds flap their entire forelimbs, while bats flap their spread-out fingers.

D. A & C

10. When bats hunt, they make a noise (that humans can’t hear) then wait for it to bounce back. If the sound bounces back, the bat is able to determine if it detected prey and pursue it or move on if the sound doesn’t bounce back. What is this form of communication called? 

A. Back wavelength

B. Echolocation

C. Prey radar

D. Sonar bounce

11. Bats provide many services for humans. Which of these is true?

A. Some bats can eat thousands of insects in a single night.

B. A colony of 150 big brown bats can eat up to 18 million or more crop-devouring root worms each summer.

C. Devices to help the blind navigate are based on bats’ ability to detect prey in the dark.

D. Unless some seeds pass through the digestive tract of a fruit-eating bat, they will not sprout.

E. All of the above


1. A; 2. D; 3. C; 4. A; 5. C; 6. C; 7. True; 8. D; 9. D; 10. B; 11. E 


Kathleen Gaskell is the Bay Journal's copy and layout editor and author of the Chesapeake Challenge. Contact Kathleen at

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