|Help Me! I Found A Bat...
Bats, like many other mammals, can contract and spread
rabies through a bite. Because of this, Walden's Puddle
is no longer able to rehabilitate them in Tennessee.
However, according to studies, less that one half of one
percent of bats actually carries rabies and even those
rarely become aggressive. To avoid problems, never
attempt to handle a bat. Like any animal, it may bite if
injured or frightened.
only mammals adapted to true flight, bats are probably
one of the most beneficial and least understood. There
are nearly 1000 species of bats and they are found on
every continent except Antarctica. Some are smaller that
hummingbirds and some, like the giant fruit bats, can
have wingspans of up to 6 feet. There are 44 known
species in the United States. Nineteen of these occur in
the eastern US and 16 species can be found in Tennessee.
Bats are primarily nocturnal, although they can
sometimes be seen flying about in the early evening
before sunset. Occasionally, on warm winter days, they
will even fly in daylight hours. Bats have perfectly
good eyesight (so much for the old expression 'blind as
a bat') but use their sophisticated system of
echolocation to navigate and hunt. So acute is their
ability to echolocate that they are able to avoid
obstacles no wider than a thread and capture tiny flying
insects, in complete darkness. All bats that live in
Tennessee feed on night-flying insects and are the only
major predator to fill this roll. Each bat will eat more
than 50% of its own body weight each night, which could
add up to about 3000 mosquitoes!
The presence of bats in an attic or garage does not
necessarily constitute a health hazard. In fact, a bat
roost increases property values in China, as they are
thought to bring good luck and happiness! If the colony
is small, it is usually wisest to leave it undisturbed
and enjoy the free reduction in mosquitoes. If you need
to evict them, simply wait until any pups are old enough
to fly; around September in our area. Watch for the bats
to leave to locate their entryway.
Cover the hole with mesh screen that is attached on the
top and two sides, leaving the bottom free for the bats
to crawl out and fly away. They won't be able to get
back in and will have to look elsewhere for a new roost.
Unfortunately, worldwide populations of bats have been
dramatically reduced. Several species are close to
extinction and in the U.S.; five are on the Endangered
Species List. Two of these, the Indiana Bat and the Gray
Bat are found in Tennessee. Humans seem to be the only
animal having a significant impact on the bat
population. Adverse affects by humans include
destruction of habitat, direct killing, vandalism, use
of pesticides (on insects) and other chemical toxins and
disturbance of maternity and hibernating colonies. The
effects of WNS (White-Nose Syndrome) are devastating
entire populations of certain species.
Bats in this area must either migrate or hibernate in the
winter. This is generally November through February,
when there are no insects to eat. Upon entering
hibernation, they must survive several months on limited
stores of fat. Each disturbance and subsequent arousal
from torpor costs the bat almost 30 days worth of body
fat. Hibernating bats are extremely sensitive as even
one disruption could cause them to die of starvation
before spring arrives. A single disturbance of a
maternity colony during the months of May through August
could cause hundreds of flightless baby bats to fall to
their death in panic.
So give them their space and they will provide years of
free pest control and hours of evening entertainment on
the back porch as you watch the dipping, zipping flight
of these truly amazing mammals!
To encourage these wonderful little creatures to your
backyard for a mosquito feast, try installing a wooden
bat house. This will also help insure they will roost in
their own home instead of yours. Visit Bat Conservation
International at www.BatCon.org for specific
instructions for building and placing a bat house.
information on bats visit these following websites: