Not everybody is crazy about having bats around. In fact a lot of people are terribly afraid of them. I think that if people realized how beneficial they are to us they would grow to appreciate them more. Just learning a little bit more about these amazing creatures should lesson their fears too. Read on…..
Ten Interesting Facts About Bats
- There are over a thousand species of bats spread out around the world. About forty of these species can be found in the United States and Canada. The remainder live in tropical forests. They come in all different sizes and shapes.
- Some bat species are insect eating bats (including beetles and moths) which some people might appreciate. One bat can eat hundreds if not up to a thousand insects in just one hour and that includes mosquitoes. Add a colony of bats to that and you get even more insects eaten. Now I don’t know about you but when I see bats flying around my house I like it because I know they are eating those darn mosquitoes. That means a few less mosquitoes eating me. Also, farmers appreciate the fact that bats eat insects because certain types of beetles and moths can destroy their crops.
- Some bat species eat fruit, seeds, or pollen (nectar) from flowers. These types of bats are pollinators found in the tropics and the desert. There are three hundred species of plants that rely on bats for their survival. Some of these plants include bananas, breadfruit, avocados, dates, figs, peaches, mangoes, balsa wood, cashew trees, guava, agave, breadfruit, ebony, and mahogany. Bats also spread seeds that help start trees which is beneficial for the rainforest. AND…..if you like tequila, without bats you would not be able to enjoy a good margarita. That’s right, because Tequila is made from the blue agave plant which depends on a few bat species for pollination. Without this pollination there would be no tequila.
- Bats are the only mammal that can truly fly. Yes, there is the flying squirrel but it is more of a glider and can only go short distances.
- Some species of bats are fast. For example, the Brazilian free-tailed bat can fly at speeds up to ninety-nine miles per hour.
- Bats are considered one of the slowest reproducing mammals. They mate in the fall and the female will not have the baby (pup) until spring when the temperatures are warmer. Pregnant females move from hibernating sites to warmer roosts forming nursery colonies. Most mama bats only have one baby per year and they feed their young breast milk not insects. Young bats grow quickly and are able to fly within three weeks.
- Some species of bat will migrate while others hibernate colonizing in large numbers mostly in caves but also buildings. The purpose is so that they can pack in close together mostly to keep warm. Some bats may go into torpor which means they have a slowed down body rate during hibernation.
- Bats hang upside down which helps them hide from predators such as hawks and owls who eat them regularly. Snakes and mammals like raccoons and weasels will also attack bats while they are sleeping.
- No… bats are not blind even though many people seem to believe that. In fact they can see about as good as you and me. However, since they are nocturnal animals they depend on echolocation. This means that they create noises (which humans cannot hear) that bounces off of objects and back to the bat helping them judge the size of an object and how far away it is. This is how they locate their food and avoid any obstacles.
- Bats are not dirty and in general do not bother people at all. Unless of course they move into your attic in search of a place to live. That is when they become unwanted and problematic.
How Can You Attract Bats?
If you have read the above and think that it would be great to have bats around you can try to attract them to your yard. Here are some ideas:
- Bats like bat houses. You can purchase them at the store or if you are a handy type person you can build your own.
- Water features such as a pond, are also good because insects like to hang out there and bats like to eat them.
- Certain flowers attract bats such as the moonflower, evening primrose, night blooming water lilies, chives, lemon balm, and marjoram.
- Bats like hollow trees. Leave them alone on your property and do not take them down. Of course old abandoned buildings (i.e. barns) are good for bats who like to hang under the eves.
As you can see bats are important for our environment. They eat their fair share of insects (i.e. mosquitoes) which is my number one reason for wanting them around my house. Plus farmers appreciate them eating up those beetles and moths that destroy their crops.
The fact that they are important pollinators (in some parts of the country) for the survival of many species of plants is also a plus to have them around.
If you have any thoughts to add or questions about this post please feel free to make your comments below.
Thanks for reading!
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