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Why Do Bats Look Like Dogs? Are They Genetically Similar?

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

By Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Bat hanging upside down

With more than 1,400 different species of bats in existence throughout the world, they can’t all be expected to look the same.1 Some have small heads and large ears, while others have large heads and small bodies. Some bats, like African fruit bats, are known to look like dogs — or at least, their heads do.2 Why would bats look like dogs? Are some types of bats genetically similar to dogs? Here, we go over the answers to these questions. In short, though some bats do look like dogs, there is no scientific consensus about the reason for this. Bats and dogs do not have very much in common.

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Bats and Dogs Belong to the Same Super-Order

At one time, it was thought that bats were part of the primate family. However, they are currently categorized into the super-order Pegasoferae, which includes animals such as cows, whales, cats, and even dogs. It is believed that bats and dogs share a common ancestor, although that ancestor has not yet been identified. Other than shared DNA and ancestry, there is not much that bats and dogs have in common.

For example, bats eat insects and fruit to survive, while dogs eat grains, fruit, vegetables, and animal protein to stay happy and healthy. Bats and dogs do not have the same body types either. Some types of bats do have what is referred to as a “dog face,” partly because of the snout, which is similar to the snout of a dog. There are eight species of bats that are categorized into a group called “dog-faced bats” or “sky puppies” because they happen to remind us so much of the way that dogs look.

labrador dog playing with sock
Image Credit: Zachary Pennington, Shutterstock

It Is Not Clear Why Some Bats Look Like Dogs

There is no scientific consensus as to why some bats look like dogs. It seems to simply be that these are animals with similar features. Bats are not nearly as ugly as we imagine them to be in our heads when we’re thinking about Halloween or Dracula. Many types of bats are furry, wide-eyed, snub-nosed, and large-eared, which are all the features of what we consider to be cute animals. Either way, their looks have everything to do with their species-specific genetics and very little, if anything at all, to do with dogs.

Do Bats Act Like Dogs in Any Way?

One thing that bats have in common with dogs is that they like to hang out in packs. Otherwise, bats are not much like dogs at all when it comes to things like personality, temperament, behavior, and diet. Bats are not domesticated like dogs are, so they require no human interaction and prefer to have none if it is up to them. Bats will bite if they feel threatened, although their bites don’t typically hurt too much, and they will do whatever they can to avoid danger before they resort to biting.

Bats don’t need to be petted, and they are not social with humans in any way. They are also nocturnal, meaning that they sleep and hide during the day and become active at night, which is the opposite of what the average dog does. It’s safe to say that bats do not act like dogs in any way, aside from the fact that they stick together for protection and resource gathering.

A single bat hanging from steel rafters
Image By: jochemy, Pixabay

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Final Thoughts

It is true that some bats have heads that look like those of dogs, but other bats look like other animals that we know and love, such as kitties, lemurs, and raccoons. However, bats are bats, and no matter what they look like, they are unique in their own right. Bats do not make good pets as dogs do, so it is always best to let them live in the wild where they belong.

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Featured Image Credit: Treasuregr, Pixabay

Rachael Gerkensmeyer

Authored by

Rachael has been a freelance writer since 2000, in which time she has had an opportunity to research and write about many different topics while working to master the art of fusing high-quality content with effective content marketing strategies. She lives off the grid in Hawaii with her husband, her garden, and her rescue animals including 5 dogs, a cat, a goat, and dozens of chickens. She is an artist at heart and loves...Read more

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