Bats are one
of the most interesting and important creatures in the world. Unfortunately, mines,
caves, and old growth forests that provide necessary roosting places for bats have been
vanishing, sealed up, cut down. Bat houses, constructed by people, serve multiple
purposes: they help bats maintain their populations by providing nesting and brood-rearing
sanctuaries; they establish bats that control mosquitoes and insect pests' destruction to
crops; they permit bats to provide you with an enjoyable, educational experience.
The species most likely to make use of bat houses on the Niagara Frontier are the
big brown bat and the little brown bat.
plan for a small economy bat house is from The Bat House Builder's Handbook, by
Merlin D. Tuttle and Donna L. Hensley, presented here with the permission of Bat
Conservation International. (PO Box 162603, Austin, Texas 78716.) We recommend the
book ($7.95 -- for BCI members: $5.95), and your contacting Bat Conservation International
for more information about bats, membership in BCI, and for information on how you can
participate in the North American Bat House Research Project. And for people who
join the North American Bat House Research Project for $15 (or $10 renewal) they receive a
free copy of The Bat House Builder's Handbook, along with other bat house
Bat Conservation International's "Bat Facts and Amazing Trivia" are reproduced
here with permission. For additional facts and trivia, go to http://www.batcon.org.
A single little brown bat can
catch 600 mosquitoes in just one hour.
A colony of 150 big brown bats can
protect local farmers from up to 18 million or more rootworms each summer.
The 20 million Mexican free-tails
from Bracken Cave, Texas eat 250 tons of insects nightly.
Worldwide, bats are the most
important natural enemies of night-flying insects.
Tropical bats are key elements in
rain forest ecosystems which rely on them to pollinate flowers and disperse seeds for
countless trees and shrubs.
Tequila is produced from agave
plans whose seed production drops to 1/3,000th of normal without bat pollinators.
Bat droppings in caves support
whole ecosystems of unique organisms, including bacteria useful in detoxifying wastes,
improving detergents, and producing gasohol and antibiotics.
Contrary to popular misconception,
bats are not blind, do not become entangled in human hair, and seldom transmit disease to
other animals or humans.
All mammals can contract rabies;
however, even the less than a half of one percent of bats that do, normally bite only in
self-defense and pose little threat to people who do not handle them.
Bats are exceptionally vulnerable
to extinction, in part because they are the slowest reproducing mammals on earth for their
size, most only producing only one young annually.
More than 50% of American bat
species are in severe decline or already listed as endangered. Losses are occurring
at alarming rates worldwide.
Loss of bats increases demand for
chemical pesticides, can jeopardize whole ecosystems of other animal and plant species,
and can harm human economies.
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 nearly six feet.
The common little brown bat of
North America is the world's longest lived mammals for its size, with lifespans sometimes
exceeding 32 years.
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 ponds' surface.
African heart-nosed bats can hear
the footsteps of a beetle walking on sand from a distance of more than six feet.
Red bats that live in tree foliage
throughout most of North America can withstand body temperatures as low as 23 degrees F.
during winter hibernation.
Niagara Frontier Wildlife Habitat Council
PO Box 430
Ransomville, NY 14131