Let’s Get Batty!

Saturday, August 27th – Kayla Thompson, Adult Services

When many people think about bats, they are often associating them with vampires (myself often included). But there are more to these fascinating winged animals than blood sucking and undead creatures. 

Fun Bat Facts:
1 . They are the only Mammals capable of true and sustained flight.
2 . The smallest bat (and mammal in existence) is Kitti’s Hognosed Bat (also known as the Bumblebee Bat).
3 . The largest bats in existence are the Flying Foxes (their wingspan can stretch up to 5 ft. 7 in.).
4 . Out of the 1,400 species worldwide (20% of the mammalian population) only 3 species of bats are a type of Vampire Bat.
5 . They are pollinators (like bees, wasps, butterflies, moths, beetles, etc.)!
6 . An older English name for bats is Flittermouse (which I think is really cute).
7 . Rabies occurs in less than ½ of 1 percent of all bats.
8 . Bats can live more than 30 years if the conditions are right!
9 . Bats can eat up to 1,200 mosquitoes an hour (that’s more mosquitoes than my bug spray can fend off!)
(Wikipedia – Bats)

 

So why am I gushing about bats (besides the fact that they are one of my favorite animals)? From tonight until the sun crests the horizon tomorrow is known as International Bat Night. This day is celebrated/observed by about 30 different countries worldwide in order to highlight the importance of these creatures. It was started in 1997 as a way to inform the public about the great benefits and needs we have for bats everywhere. It is also used to dispute some negative images and reputations the bat population might have.

Missouri Bat Facts:
1 . Missouri is home to 14 different kinds of bats.
2 . Missouri bats range in size from 1/10th of an ounce to 1 ounce and the largest (Hoary Bat) has a wingspan of up to 16 inches.
3 . All Missouri bats feed exclusively on insects (no blood suckers here).
4 . Bats hang upside down in order to use gravity to pick up flight speed.
5 . Most Missouri bats breed in the fall and give birth to one pup (baby) a year (usually in the spring) but some have been known to give birth to anywhere from 3-4 pups.
(Learn more about bats at the Missouri Conservation Department)

How can you observe International Bat Night?
1. Visit your local Conservation Department – here in Cape Girardeau we have the Missouri Conservation Center which is run by the Missouri Conservation Department.
2. Visit a bat habitat – this might also be something to talk to the Missouri Conservation Center about. But, around Cape Girardeau (even in some of the parks) you can find bat houses where local bats might be nesting and/or resting. Also, if you go outside after sundown and watch the streetlights you can sometimes see bats swooping about. This is because of the bugs that tend to flock to the light posts. This could be a fun way to observe bats right in your own community. 
3. Read up about bats! A great way to celebrate this interesting night is to visit the Cape Girardeau Public Library to learn more about the bats in your area and just bats in general. You can also check out a pair of binoculars if you decide to do a little bit of bat watching yourself.

Bat-Tastic Books and DVDs Here at the Cape Girardeau Public Library:

Adult Non-Fiction:
Bats: An Illustrated Guide to All Species by Marianne Taylor
The Pollinator Victory Garden by Kim Eierman
Juvenile Non-Fiction:
Bats by Sue Ruff
Bats by Angelique Johnson
Horseshoe Bats by Emily Raabe
We Need Bats by Heather Niver
Outside and Inside Bats by Sandra Markle
Shadows of the Night: The Hidden World of the Little Brown Bat by Barbara Bash
DVDs:
The Gathering Swarms: Bats, Butterflies, and More

 

**A really interesting book that I borrowed through interlibrary loan was called Dark Banquet: Blood and the Curious Lives of Blood-Feeding Creatures by Bill Schutt. It has a whole section dedicated to Vampire Bats. I highly recommend it! I love anything written by Bill Schutt.

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