Bats in South Africa can be separated into two groups: the bigger fruit bats and the smaller insectivorous bats. Fruit bats have long noses typical of animals with a good sense of smell, big eyes (and thus excellent eyesight), and no tail. They are never found IN roofs, although they are often found around houses, typically in trees but sometimes hanging on the eaves. Insect bats are smaller – some can sit quite comfortably on the end of your thumb and often have strange face structures which signify their incredible ability to navigate using sound, a process known as echolocation. All insect bats have tails. Nearly all bats eat either fruit or insects – a handful of species eat other things such as scorpions, small fish, and frogs. Only the vampires of central America thrive on blood. Vampire bats have suffered much bad press owing to superstition and entertainment media, but are very small (less than 50 g) bats with a strong social structure and they are not able to swarm and kill large prey and humans!
Being mammals, bats have fur, bear live young, and the mothers feed the babies milk as any mammal mother. Bats usually have only one baby a year, although in the warmer parts of this country in good years some mothers may have another in the second half of summer. Baby bats are called pups and are born pink, hairless, and with small stubby wings. They cannot fly for the first few weeks of life and at this time are unable to leave their roosts. Fruit bat mothers generally carry their young with them at night; insect bats usually leave them in a safe roost and return at intervals to feed.
With only one baby a year, and with a low survival rate due to the immense amount of skills they need to learn, bats have some of the slowest reproductive rates of any small animal. To balance this, bats have also the longest life spans of any small mammal and there are several records of bats living longer than 40 years.