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Showing posts from September, 2009

White-Nose Syndrome

Little Brown Bats exhibiting WNS symptoms photo courtesy of Nancy Heaslip, New York Department of Environmental Conservation

I'm going to switch gears now and tell you about something quite serious that is devastating bat populations in the Northeastern United States and continuing to spread. It is called White-Nose Syndrome, or WNS, and since its discovery in a cave near Albany, New York in February 2006, it has wiped out an estimated 1 million bats in 9 states - with some caves experiencing a 90-100% mortality rate! - and scientists have yet to figure out the how's and the why's.

So far, it has affected 6 different bat species, all of which are insectivorous and hibernating species - the endangered Indiana myotis (Myotis sodalis), the little brown myotis (Myotis lucifugus), the big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus), the tri-colored bat (Perimyotis subflavus), the northern myotis (Myotis septentrionalis), and the eastern small-footed myotis (Myotis leibii).
To begin, let me provid…

Why Bats Are So Amazing, Important & Misunderstood - part III

adult White-Winged Vampire Bats (Diaemus youngi) - photo by Daniel Riskin

So Why the Misunderstanding... Like most misunderstandings, it comes down to people's ignorance. Through research, the myths surrounding bats have all been dispelled: They're not blind.They don't get tangled in your hair.They don't carry rabies any more than any other wild animal.They're not mice with wings.They're not bloodsuckers.They're not ugly. Read Merlin Tuttle's Rebuttal to These Common Bat Myths

Why Bats Are So Amazing, Important & Misunderstood - part II

Tamana Cave, Trinidad - photo by Daniel Riskin
Some Amazing Bat Trivia click on the links to view a photo of the bat/s* The world's smallest mammal is the bumblebee bat of Thailand, weighing less than a penny.Giant flying foxes that live in Indonesia have wingspans of six feet.The common little brown bat of North America is the world's longest-lived mammal for its size, with life spans sometimes exceeding 34 years.Mexican free-tailed bats sometimes fly up to two miles high to feed or to catch tailwinds that carry them over long distances at speeds of more than 60 miles per hour.The pallid bat of western North America is immune to the stings of scorpions and even the seven-inch centipedes upon which it feeds.Fishing bats have echolocation so sophisticated that they can detect a minnow's fin as fine as a human hair, protruding only two millimeters above a pond's surface.African heart-nosed bats can hear the footsteps of a beetle from more than six feet away.Frog-eating bats

Why Bats are So Amazing, Important & Misunderstood - part I

Lesser Short-Nose Fruit Bat (Cynopterus brachyotis)
photo by Jose Iriarte-Diaz & Arnold Song*
Some Important Bat Facts click on the links to view a photo of the bat/s** Nearly 1,000 [now 1,100] kinds of bats account for almost a quarter [now 20%] of all mammal species, and most are highly beneficial.A single little brown bat can catch 1,200 mosquito-sized insects in just one hour.A colony of 150 big brown bats can protect local farmers from up to 33 million or more rootworms each summer.The 20 million Mexican free-tails from Bracken Cave, Texas, eat approximately 200 tons of insects nightly.Tropical bats are key elements in rain forest ecosystems, which rely on them to pollinate flowers and disperse seeds for countless trees and shrubs.In the wild, important agricultural plants, from bananas, breadfruit, and mangoes to cashews, dates, figs, rely on bats for pollination and seed dispersal.Tequila is produced from agave plants whose seed production drops to 1/3,000th of normal without b…