National Bat Appreciation Day occurs annually on April 17th. April is a good time of year to observe bats, as they are now beginning to emerge from hibernation. If you see one, be sure not to touch them.
It is also an excellent time to learn about the role bats play in nature. One important reason to celebrate bats is that they are considered to be an “insectivorous” creature because they rid our world of many annoying insects. In one hour, a bat can eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes. Oregon bats also happen to feed on a number of pests, such as spruce budworm moths, tussock moths, pine bark beetle moths and gypsy moths.
Fun Bat Facts:
- Some species of bats can live up to 40 years.
- Many bats can see in the dark and use their extreme sense of hearing.
- Bats are the only mammal naturally capable of true and sustained flight.
- There are over 1,200 known species of bats.
- The United States is home to an estimated 48 species of bats.
- Nearly 70% of bats are insectivores.
- One of the largest bats is the Giant Golden-Crowned Flying Fox bat weighing up to 4 lbs with a wingspan of up to 5 feet, 7 inches.
- Bats are clean animals, grooming themselves almost constantly.
- North America’s largest urban bat colony is found on the Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas. It is home to an estimated 1,500,000 Mexican Free-Tailed bats. This colony of bats eats approximately 10,000 to 30,000 lbs of insects each night. It is estimated 100,000 tourists visit the bridge annually to watch the bats leave the roost at twilight.
- One colony of 150 Big Brown bats can protect farmers from up to 33 million or more rootworms each summer.
- Almost 40% of American bat species are in severe decline, with some already listed as endangered or threatened.
- Three U.S. states have an official state bat. Texas and Oklahoma have named the Mexican Free-Tailed bat their state bat, and Virginia has dubbed the Virginia Big-Eared bat their state bat.
One of my favorite Oregon bats is the Townsend Big Eared Bat
Townsend’s big-eared bats (Corynorhinus townsendii) are a medium-sized bat with very long ears. Their fur is pale gray or brown above and buff colored on the underside. Their wingspan is12-13 in (30-34 cm) and they weigh between 0.3-0.5 oz. This bat’s ears are enormous, reaching a length of 38 mm. When the ears are laid back they extend to the middle of its body. They can be found in pine forests and arid desert scrub habitats. When roosting they do not tuck themselves into cracks and crevices like many bat species do, but prefer large open areas. They specialize in eating moths and other insects such as beetles, flies and wasps. Townsend’s big-eared bat is usually a late flier and will forage along the edge of vegetation.
- When it’s roosting or hibernating, Townsend’s big-eared bat curls up its long ears so they look like rams horns.
- When flying they can rapidly extend or contract their ears. When flying with their ears extended the ears point forward and are nearly parallel to their body.
To learn more about Oregon’s Bats go to: living with bats