It’s Bat Week! How You Can Help the Bats in Your Area
Did you know that a single brown bat (seen above) can eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes an hour? So a whole colony of bats can eat hundreds of thousands of insects every night. Bats are our friends: they consume mosquitoes and other insects that can harm people, and they eat pests that can devastate food and other agricultural crops. These hard-working mammals also spread the seeds of flowers and plants.
In honor of these awesome creatures, October 25 through October 31 is Bat Week, an annual, international celebration of the role of bats in nature. This year on October 31, people across the U.S. and Canada will try to set a world record by building 5,000 bat houses in one day.
In case youre wondering why anyone would want to do this, know that your bat house will attract bats to your neighborhood, and this will provide you with natural pest control and provide bats – many species of which are endangered – with a safe home. Bat houses can be many sizes, from about 2 x 3 and up. Place yours in the sun and at least 12 feet off the ground to prevent predators from gaining entrance.
All About Bats
Bats live a long time, usually about 5 – 15 years, and most female bats only have one pup per year.
Bats live everywhere in the world except in extremely hot or extremely cold regions. So even if you never see them, you probably have some bats living in your neighborhood.
Bats are unique and fascinating mammals, and there are more than 1,300 species of them. They vary in size from the common pipistrelle bat, seen above, which could fit in the palm of your hand, to flying foxes whose wing span can be an amazing six feet.
They come in a variety of colors and shapes: some have wrinkly faces and nose leaves that help them navigate and find insects; their ears can be tiny or large, and their eyes vary between big round pools and tiny specks, almost invisible. Check out this dwarf epaulettes bat below.
Photo Credit: thinkstock
Bats Can Fly
Bats are also the only mammal that has the ability to fly, and they are in fact more efficient fliers than birds. Experts believe thats because the furry creatures have a flexible skin membrane and wings with many joints, all of which creates a shape-shifting structure that provides for greater flying ability.
Bats In Danger
Tragically, millions of bats in North America have already been struck down by a disease called white nose syndrome (WNS), and millions more are threatened. It was first detected near Albany, NY, in 2007, and has spread to 24 additional states and into Canada. Even though scientists are working hard to find ways to limit the impact of the disease, there is no known cure for WNS.
The National Park Service suggests some critical ways that we can help protect bats.
- Stay out of closed caves. Waking hibernating bats or disturbing mothers and pups can harm large populations.
- Report dead/injured bats. If you see a bat on the ground or acting strangely, tell a park ranger. Don’t pick it upsimply tell a park official about it.
- Stop the spread of WNS. People who have been in caves or mines in the last 5 years should follow a simple screening and cleaning process to help minimize the risk of spread.
Bats need us as much as we need them. Be a part of 2015 Bat Week and show the world what we can all do for bats. Start building that bat house!