In the colder parts of the Northern Hemisphere, bats are beginning to emerge from hibernation. What better time to celebrate them?
Why celebrate bats?
- They are the only mammals capable of true flight.
- They can “see” what we can't, in the dark, using echolocation. Bats emit ultrasonic sounds and then listen to the reflected sounds (or echoes); from the reflections their brains build a detailed image that includes distance and textures of things in the environment. Bats also listen for other sounds, such as those created by their insect prey: the fluttering of moth wings or the movement of earwigs in the ground. It's hard to imagine that bats can hear such teeny sounds while emitting 15 signals each and every second and listening for the echoes of those sounds, too, all the while flying at 5 to 10 miles per hour—even up to 60 miles per hour! Bats can tell the distance of walls and trees and insects, they can tell the difference between hard- and soft-bodied insects, and they can “see” and avoid wires as thin as a human hair!
- Bats rid our world of many bothersome, disease-spreading, crop-invading insects. (Well, the insectivorous bats do, at least. Some bats eat fruit rather than insects.) One little brown bat can eat 1,000 mosquitos in JUST ONE HOUR! With a lifespan of almost 40 years, a little brown bat can eat a LOT of mosquitos!
Find out more about bats at Amazing Bat Facts.
Help save bats!
Unfortunately, many bat species are in trouble. Bats are susceptible to pesticides and other poisons; they can be killed by wind turbines; their homes and hibernacula are often disturbed by spelunking (cave exploration) or other human activities. Check out this blog post to learn more about dangers to bats.
Google “bat rescue” to see if you can find any local efforts to save bats. Perhaps you can donate money, build bat houses for your backyard, or teach others about the importance of bats to our ecosystem. Here is a story about a rescue of some orphaned baby bats in Australia (check out the adorable photo!), and here is an organization trying to save bats in the U.S.
Also on this date: