Bats are the only flying mammal on earth. There are over a dozen species of bats found in the Mojave desert, and roughly 1,000 different species of bats found worldwide! Biologist separate this diverse worldwide group of winged mammals into two groups, megabats and microbats. Megabats are large fruit eating bats typically found in tropical environments. Microbats are smaller generally insect eating bats, although some have a very diverse diet of pollen, insects, fruits, and small reptiles.
The microbats found throughout the Mojave desert thrive on a diet of insects such as mosquitoes, moths, beetles, and scorpions. Using sound waves known as echolocation they are able to navigate and hunt in extremely low light. Some bats migrate and others hibernate through the winter to survive year round in the Mojave.
Although the characteristics of each species of bats vary greatly, they face many of the same threats. Bat populations are at risk due to, development, loss of habitat, climate change, and an infectious disease known as white-nose syndrome (WNS). Protection for bats vary widely, but all bats found in the Mojave are listed as a species of special concern. The Townsend big-ear bat and the Leaf-nosed bat found in California and Nevada are protected under the Endangered Species Act.