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Bats do drink water, and considering they are quite small creatures, they actually drink a lot more water than you probably gave them credit for. It’s actually been in the last few years that we have found more evidence to support theories behind how bats drink, and how much too, and it was in Surrey, England, that photos were beautifully captured showing bats swooping down on a garden pond to grab some cheeky refreshments.
It is very rare to see bats drinking. That’s because they don’t stand and drink like we are used to seeing animals stand and drink. Lions and tigers, for example, head to the watering hole, stand at the edge, and take a drink. Many other animals do the same. Bats do not do this. They can’t get anywhere close to the water for too long before they are attacked by predators lurking within it. Many animals would be obvious in the shadows against moonlight when above open water.
Bats will fly over water and take a drink at the same time. If you’ve ever seen bats in flight, you will appreciate that this all happens in the blink of an eye, and that has what has made it very difficult to get photographic evidence of what they do. Over and over again, the bat will fly over the water, swoop down, take a drink, and then fly back off again. They’ll keep doing it until they feel entirely rehydrated again, and it can take a few swoops.
The other reason they swoop over water and drink, rather than landing, standing and drinking, is because they can’t … land or stand. There are actually only two bats that can stand up and appear to walk, and neither of them are found in the United States. The bat species that you are likely to encounter do not have the back legs designed to stand or walk / run. They simply can’t land. Even if they weren’t afraid of those predators lurking beneath the dark water, they still couldn’t land to take a drink.
Bats don’t just get their liquid refreshment from the water in ponds, pools, lakes, rivers, etc. They also get quite a lot of water from the food they eat. Insects are high in water content. Not only that, bats visit plants and flowers and these contain nectar. This also provides the bat with some liquid refreshment.
Some bats don’t swoop and drink in quite the same manner that we have described here. There are some that skim over the water’s surface to ‘pick up’ water on their fur. They would then land and lick the fur off themselves. The fruit bat and flying fox bat are known for this.
To answer the question, bats DO drink, and they actually drink quite a lot. If you have open water in your garden and regularly see bats flying around in the air, aim your cameras at the surface of the water and set it to slow-mo. There’s a good chance the bat will be so quick you won’t get a chance to see it, but you never know … You might just get the next awesome bat-drinking shot that takes the world by storm.
For more information, you may want to click on one of these guides that I wrote:
How much does bat removal cost? - get the lowdown on prices.
How to get rid of bats - my main bat removal info guide.
Example bat removal photographs - get do-it-yourself ideas.
Bat job blog - learn from great examples of bat jobs I've done.
how to get bats out of your attic