Bats

Bats

 

TGO Nature Center, Nature, The Great Outdoors, Titusville, Florida, TGO, Bats, Bat, Bat House

Photo Courtesy of Sandy Juba

 

*During the early 2000’s, Linda Adams, a former resident of TGO, wrote a series of articles for the TGO Nature Center titled “a Page From Nature”.  This article was a part of that series and was published in 2002.  The original article did not include any photographs so I added a photo.  Enjoy!

Bats are an essential link in the balance of nature. In Florida, bats provide a valuable service by consuming mosquitoes and other night-flying insects—while posing little threat to human health. Curiously, bats have been feared and maligned by man since the Dark Ages. Some of this fear comes from the misconception that most bats carry rabies, when, in fact, less that 1/2 of 1 percent carries the disease. There is no evidence that widespread destruction of bats or their roosts has reduced the already low health hazard. Excluding entry into buildings, not by killing bats, should do bat control.

Some people wrongly believe bats are flying mice. In fact, bats form a separate and distinguishable group of mammals more closely related to moles, shrews, and even monkeys than to rodents. Bats are the only flying mammals, and, except for certain unique features, their anatomy is similar to that of most other mammals.

Bat’s wings are very different from those of birds, and built upon the same general pattern as the limbs of other mammals. The wing is composed of an upper arm, forearm, wrist, and hand with thumb and four fingers. The hand and fingers are greatly elongated in order to spread and control the wing. The hind limbs of the bat are attached at the hip in reverse, pointing the knees backward. This arrangement is thought to facilitate the bat’s ability to alight upside down and hang by its toes.

Bats occur worldwide. Of the approximately 850 species of bats only 39 occur in the United States and of those, 17 occur in Florida.

Florida bats are highly beneficial because they consume tremendous numbers of night flying insects. Bats locate insects at night using a very sophisticated sonar system, emitting supersonic sounds and listening for echoes. Bats are most frequently seen on warm nights feeding over bodies of water, around buildings or forest edges, or around lights. During the day, bats find shelter in a variety of secluded places, preferring small, dark, poorly ventilated spaces that heat up during the day. Tree cavities, snags, and especially unpruned cabbage palms are important roost sites. Due to increasing urbanization, the number of these natural roosting sites has been reduced and window shutters, drain pipes, billboards, roof tiles, and attics have become popular roosting site substitutes.

The only permanent way to get rid of a bat colony (should you have that problem) is to exclude them from the building by plugging their entrance holes. Spring, fall and winter are the best times to exclude bats in Florida.

THE BAT BOMB — The roosting habits of bats once inspired an unusual plan to bring about an early end to World War II in the Pacific. The idea was to attach very light incendiary bombs to bats and release thousands of the armed creatures over Osaka, one of Japan’s major industrial cities. The bats were expected to roost in the rafters of the buildings, which during that period were made mostly of wood. Timing devices would ignite all the firebombs at once, thus creating a vast firestorm.

The feasibility of the plan was proven one day when a few of the bats in the United States escaped and burned down the control tower of the desert airbase where the project was located. Shortly thereafter, its Navy sponsors mysteriously abandoned the idea. There has been speculation that the project was derailed because of progress on the atomic bomb.  Linda Adams (2002)

Note: The photo in this article is of the bat house located at the Nature Center.

 

 

TGO Nature Center – “Living in Harmony with Nature

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