Critter Corner - Bats
DID YOU KNOW:
Bats are the only mammals that are capable of true flight. Bats hang upside down and use gravity to gain speed to begin flight. Though we don't have fruit-eating bats or vampire bats in our area, we do have several species of insect-eating bats.
Our local bats eat flying insects. Some bats will eat half their weight -- as many as 600 flying insects -- each night. Before feasting on insects, bats often skim over a pond to grab a drink of water while in flight. Bats have good eyesight, but to find insects they use echolocation, which is similar to sonar. The bat emits a high-pitched sound that bounces off the insect, and the echo returns to the bat's ear. The bat usually catches the insect with its mouth but can scoop it up with its wing or tail and then eat it.
Baby bats are born in early summer. Kansas City area bat species have one or two babies, called pups. Mom keeps them hidden in a cave or old building. The babies drink milk from mother until they are strong fliers and can catch insects on their own, usually in about five to six weeks.
The Little Brown Bat and the Big Brown Bat live in small groups that may roost in buildings. The Red Bat and Hoary Bat are solitary and live more often in wooded areas and roost in trees. They need safe, dark areas to spend the day sleeping. Around dusk, bats go hunting.
Bats are shy. If threatened, they fly away. IF a bat is on the ground, it may be because it blew out of a tree on a cold night and is unable to crawl safety until it is warmed by the sun. Though rare, bats in our can carry rabies. If a bat is on the ground, leave it alone and contact your area animal control office or the Lakeside Nature Center for advice.
To learn more about bats
(Photo credits: Bats emerging from Carlsbad Cavern, National Parks Service; Big Brown Bat with pups, US Department of Agriculture)