Department of Fish and Wildlife
Bats: Kentucky’s natural resource
FRANKFORT, Ky. – Bats
appear frequently in so many Halloween decorations because many people view
them as spooky or scary. That’s a shame, because bats are truly amazing animals
that are frequently misunderstood.
help educate people about bats, federal agencies partnered with private
conservation organizations to designate Oct. 25-31 as National Bat Week.
should people care about these creatures? Anyone who’s ever swatted a mosquito
on the back of their neck can appreciate that a single little brown bat can eat
1,000 insects in a single hour. Bats are the major predator of night flying
insects; farmers save billions of dollars on pest control each year and can use
far fewer insecticides because bats are on the job.
can bats catch so many tiny insects in the dark? They have a built-in kind of
radar that helps them “see” when it’s pitch black.
use echolocation to navigate and find food in the darkness. They emit sound
waves that bounce off of objects in their path. By listening to the sound wave echoes
from objects in their path, bats can tell how big an insect is and what
direction it is moving. Their echolocation is so fine-tuned that they can
detect objects as thin as a human hair.
a bat many resemble a mouse with wings, they are not rodents. In fact, they are
more closely related to primates. Bats are the slowest reproducing mammals for
their size on earth and typically have only one pup each year. The oldest known
bat lived for at least 41 years.
there are more than 1,000 species of bats. Fifteen of these species call
Kentucky home. Despite their widespread distribution, however, bat populations
are becoming increasingly threatened.
syndrome, a disease named after the characteristic white fungus that grows on
the muzzles, ears and wings of infected bats, has killed more than 5.7 million
bats in eastern North America. The disease was first detected in New York in
2006, and was confirmed in Kentucky during the winter of 2011. This cold-loving
fungus causes bats to rouse from hibernation during the cold winter months when
there is no food available.
can encourage bats to roost nearby – and provide these animals a safe place to
raise their young – by building a bat house. The house can be mounted on a pole
or underneath a house eve that is exposed to the sun.
more information about bats and how to build a bat house, go online to www.batconservation.org.