” – Bumblebee bat, how do you see at night?
– I make a squeaky sound that bounces back from whatever it hits. I see by hearing.” (
From Bumblebee bats, which are the smallest of them all –a little more than an inch long (and weighing less than 1 oz), to Giant flying foxes with a wingspan of 5 to 6 feet, bats are incredibly diverse and truly captivating animals. They’re also feared for no good reason. How about we kill the bad ‘rep’ and start caring about them right now?
9 Good Bat Rules
To protect a wonderful & needed family of endearing creatures
So many bad bat myths to debunk and so little time! For a start: No, bats aren’t flying rats. They are closer to us than you might think. The ancestors of today’s bats may have evolved from an ancestral primate, which could mean that bats and humans may share a common ancestry. The vast majority of bats do not feed on blood but are either insectivores, frugivores, or nectar-feeders. Bats won’t attack you and the chances of contracting rabies are rare, although possible as it is with many other mammals.
Witnessing a bat emergence or bat watching can be an incredible and eye-opening experience to another way of life. Get to know them and very quickly you’ll marvel at them! Here, we are debunking myths and presenting considerations and requirements for when you’re out there exploring dark corners, vaulted ceilings, and caves. Keep in mind that the general EwA Wildness Etiquette also applies when observing bats.
Knowing is Caring: Learn before you go. Observe bat species and their habitat well prepared so as to minimize your impact, maximize both your safety and the welfare of the wildlife, as well as for the pleasure of everyone. Enjoy!
Did you know that bats are the only flying mammals on Earth? Bats are the second largest group of mammals in the world. They include more than 1,300 different kinds of species distributed across six continents. The U.S. counts about 50 different species that live in national parks across the country. Indonesia hosts 219 bat species — more than any other country [BA18].
The various diets of bats are instrumental in controlling insect populations. They help limit the spread of human diseases and prevent significant economic losses to crops and livestock [LP18]. Fruit and nectar-eating bats help pollinate a variety of plants, including many commercial plants used by humans. Bats also help in seed dispersal and are valuable for the growth of many tree species. Their guano, i.e., fecal matter and excretions, is often used as a fertilizer thanks to its richness in carbon, nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. Bats are an invaluable part of functioning ecosystems, and as we learn more about their habitat and biology, we can hope for a change towards a new appreciation for bats, allowing them to thrive and continue contributing to a healthy ecosystem.
Unfortunately, bat species around the world are declining rapidly and many are endangered. The reasons for that decline include habitat loss and fragmentation, diminished food supply, exposure to toxins, destruction of roosts, lethal collisions with wind turbines [OT16], disease, and the killing of bats by humans as well as from introduced predators [AS02].
In the U.S. an emergent disease, known as the White-nose syndrome (WNS), has already killed millions of bats since it was documented in 2006. WNS is caused by a fungus called Geomyces destructans that thrives in cold wet climates [GA09]. Recently, WNS was confirmed in 11 species of bats in North America and has devastated several Myotis populations [WT18].
In Massachusetts, since the onset of WNS, the population of little brown bats has decreased to less than one percent of its original population. In an effort to protect that little bat, the State is monitoring population changes and has called its residents to help in their conservation by reporting encountered bats and roosts [MG18].
1 | 🦇 Preparation rule: The more you know, the better
2 | 🛁 Health rule: Squeaky clean gear
3 | 📐 Position rule: Distance is your friend
4 | 👐🏽 Hands Off rule: Keeping our hands to ourselves
5 | 🔦 Light rule: Keep the glow low - no bright light or flash
6 | 🗣️ Sound rule: 'Shhhhhh'... Quiet Down, no zip, no clip
7 | 🍼 Mother rule: Babies, Babies, pups? Maternity Roosts are a no
8 | 🦗 Trophic rule: Caring for insects helps many bats
9 | 💬 Engaging rule: Lead by example, challenge when possible, report when necessary
📚 References & Extended Bibliography
Sharing is Caring Spread the word!
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◊ Note that this Etiquette is and will remain a work in progress. If there is anything else you would like to see added, please let us know and we’ll do our best to include it. Let’s be Earthwise Aware. Let’s enjoy and protect wildlife responsibly! Thanks for your support!