Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Bats, the Good, the Great and Why You Want Them!

April 17, 2019 has been designated as "Bat Appreciation Day" by those wonderful folks at the Days of the Year!  So let's do a review on Bats and why you would encourage them to become part of your backyard and garden areas!

Bats have had a bad reputation for many years and much of it comes from not understanding this mammal and all of it's wonderful attributes.  Halloween, scary stories, murder mysteries and more have used scenarios with bats as a harbinger of bad things to come.  Stories of bats becoming entangled in people's hair and attacking at night have added to the fear many people have when it comes to this animal.  Vampires and other "horror" scenes have reinforced the idea that bats are "bad news". I'm here to set the record straight!


Let's start with what we know about bats!

Bats are found almost everywhere where people are.  If there is a food source around, there will be bats as well.  The only place where bats have not been found is in Antarctica!  

Bat are mammals that hibernate like bears in the winter months.  Once the weather starts to warm up and the bugs come out of the ground, you will if you are lucky, start to see bats as well.  

Bats feed on bugs, fruit, beetles, and insects and there are a few species that will drink blood too  (this is where their bad reputation comes from)!  None of these blood suckers make their home in North America, so don't worry.

Bats eat up to 50% of their body weight in bugs every evening.  Yes, you should re-read that statement.  Bats eat up to 50% of their body weight in bugs every evening.  





Bats are the only flying mammal with great eyesight and the ability to echolocate their food!  No bats don't fly into your hair accidentally.  They have food to locate and eat.  Bat's are evening creatures that do most of their living while we are sleeping.  As morning comes Bats just want to go into a dark place to sleep.


Bat's with their voracious appetite help our farmers cut down on the need to use pesticides!  That is a GOOD thing.  

Unfortunately, Bats are in trouble!  They need our help.  Many bats have been dying because of a disease that is called  "White Mold Disease" and it attacks the bats as they are hibernating.  When they come out of hibernation they are sick and quickly die.  There are many efforts being made to help the bats through this debilitating disease and providing them with clean and safe places to hibernate, is one of these initiatives.

Of all the animals that you can have in the garden (and all of them have a job to do), I would be encouraging bats to find me.  Having a bat box ready for them is step #1.  These are easy to build and can be fastened to a nice cozy dry spot.  Just under the eaves is a great place. 


Here are some books that you can share with your children and get them on board to helping Mother Nature take care of her bats!  You can also build your own Bat Box and see if they will come!  Sitting on the patio in the cool evenings will be a lot nicer for you and your family when there are bats around to take care of all those nasty mosquitos.  It's a win-win situation.




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9 comments:

  1. I adore bats! I especially enjoy watching the larger fruit bats. Years ago, we wanted to put up a bat house in our backyard. Bats will pretty much eliminate mosquito problems. Unfortunately, our home owners associate would not permit us to put one up. I guess those superstitions and bad press cause a lot of people to be (shall we say) ignorant. While they would have been beneficial for us, I guess it is best for the bats that we didn't build the house. They would, no doubt, have become victims to merciless and ignorant people.

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    1. Maybe your home owners association has become more learned about Bats and the benefits. There are so many people and organizations working to help them out. This White Mold disease is quickly wiping many bats out and we will have a problem with bugs in the evenings. Hopefully more people will learn something new and see the positives of having them around.

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  2. I agree that bats have acquired an undeserved bad reputation, and I know they are beneficial in the nature chain, but I'm still not real fond of them. LOL. But hope they continue to keep down the bug population, as I dislike bugs more. :) Interesting facts about bats, Olivia.

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  3. Well they are definitely not cute and cuddly like a cat or a dog, but they do have a special place in our world. We are destroying more of our natural predators by not looking out for their needs in our world and it will be to our shame if we lose the bats as well. Trouble is that they don't breed like bugs. One bat, one baby, where insects have one to a thousand or more offspring. It is daunting.

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  4. I've learned to appreciate the bat! Had to idea they consumed so many bugs and are unfortunately in danger.

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    1. Yes a lot of our natural predators and helpers seem to be in trouble. It's Earth Day today, let's do what we can to reverse or at least do less harm.....

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  5. This was so interesting! I didn't know that bats hibernate, or that they have excellent eyesight. Where did that popular saying come from ("blind as a bat")? I've had a couple of close encounters with bats. When I was a child, we had a bat in the attic that somehow got into our living space. More recently, there was a bat in my office at work. Again, it had somehow migrated from an attic space adjacent to my work space. I would be happy to have bats eating insects _outside_ my home. I'll have to check out those DIY bat boxes. Thanks for such an informative article.

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    1. We had a bat in our church last year at Easter. I was looking for him this year (he was a no show). One of the gentlemen in the Sacristy just dropped his jacket over the little fellow and scooped him up and took him outside. No bat was harmed! They are lovely little creatures once you get over the misconceptions about them. BTW some bats will also migrate from warmer climates.

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  6. I LOVE bats (outdoors! Oh the stories of sheer terror when they came inside the old house) and just this past weekend looked at buying a bat house for The Shack. The only thing that stopped me was that I had already splurged on the bird bath. A bat house is on my list of things to get at The Shack. I love this post and your spreading the word that bats (outdoors!) are beneficial.

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