Are you a man or a mosquito? Only one of the two has a legitimate fear of bats. Most of humans’ fear of bats is based on exaggerated tales about rabies. While it’s true that bats can contract (and die from) rabies, unlike other mammals, they do not develop the “mad” stage of the disease. Rabid bats do not, as a rule, aggressively attack other creatures. In many cases of bat-caused rabies in humans, it was the human who initiated the contact by either picking up or handling an ailing bat or inadvertently rolling over on one that had landed on their bed.
Meanwhile, a little brown bat can eat 600 mosquitoes in only one hour of foraging per night. Talk about a great, non-polluting way to take a bite out of this pest’s population.
How many of these beneficial bug zappers found in the Bay watershed can you match up with their descriptions?
A. Big Brown Bat
B. Eastern Pipistrelle
C. Evening Bat
D. Hoary Bat
E. Indiana Myotis
F. Keen’s Myotis
G. Little Brown Bat
H. Red Bat
I. Silver-Haired Bat
J. Small-Footed Myotis
1. This is one of the most common bats in the United States and may fly several hundred miles to hibernate in caves and mines in the East. The mother will suckle her young almost constantly for the first two or three days of its life, and if startled, may fly off—with the infant’s mouth on her teat and its hind legs safely tucked under the opposite armpit.
2. This bats hibernates in dense clusters of 200 bats per square foot. Almost 97 percent of the total U.S. population hibernates in specific caves in the Midwest. It is on the federal Endangered Species List.
3. These bats are occasionally seen swarming near a cave’s entrance but is not known to enter the caves. It lives in buildings and hollow trees in the summer, but its winter home is still a mystery.
4. Even though this moth-eater is the most widely distributed bat in the United States, it is not often seen, and then, only in small numbers.
5. While most bats give birth to one or two young, this bat often has three to four young and is the only bat with four nipples. It is unusual among mammals in that the male and females are different colors: The males are bright or orange-red, the females dull or chestnut red.
6. This bat can fly 40 mph, the fastest speed recorded for any bat. It mostly eats large beetles, but will also zap wasps, ants, flies and moths.
7. The smallest bat in the East, this creature weighs only 1/8–1/4 ounces. It has tricolored hair that is dark at the base and tip and light in the middle.
8. This bat’s frosty, white-tipped fur is the basis for its name. Its favorite foods are moths and flies.
9. In the summer, this bat roosts under shingles, loose bark and shutters. In one case, a maternity colony of 30 bats was found under the bark of a single elm tree.
10. Very little is known about this bat which has been found roosting under such unusual places as a sliding door or wallpaper. While one often thinks of bats hibernating on the ceiling of a cave, this bat has been found under rocks on a cave’s floor.
- Hair’s the Truth: Stories about bats trying to fly into people’s “hair” are not true. When bats appear to dive at humans (or other animals, for that matter) what they are really after are the insects that tend to swarm around our heads.
- Handy Appendage: The name of the bat’s order, Chiroptera, can be translated as either “flying hand” or “hand wing.”
- Foot in Mouth: Bats groom their teeth (and fur) with one foot while hanging upside down from the other.
- Fall in Love: It is autumn, not spring, when a bat’s fancy turns to members of the opposite sex and mating.
- Now See Here: Contrary to the popular saying, bats are not blind. All species are able to see to some degree and several species have very good eyesight.
1-G 2-E 3-C 4-D 5-H 6-A 7-B 8-I 9-F 10-J
Bay Buddies would like to thank an astute reader and his son for pointing out an inaccuracy about the largest reptile in the September column, “Sea the Turtles.”
The record for the largest living reptile belongs to the saltwater crocodile, where rare individuals can exceed 2,200 pounds, while the largest Atlantic leatherback weighs around a ton. When it comes to average individuals, though, the average Atlantic leatherbacks weighs at least 1,600 pounds while the average male crocodile weighs only 880–1,100 pounds.