Helping Wildlife – Bats

 

Bats are flying mammals and found in nearly every habitat throughout Ohio. In fact, most bats live near humans without ever being detected. There are 10 species of bats recorded in Ohio; the most commonly encountered species generally include the little brown bat (Myotis lucifugus) and big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus). Bats are a rabies vector species, but it is very uncommon to encounter a rabid bat.

Bats are very important to the environment! Bats feed one or two hours after sunset and also before sunrise. In one night, a single bat can eat its body weight (thousands) of mosquitoes and flying insects. Multiply this number by number of bats in a colony, and the benefit to humans is enormous, especially when West Nile Virus is prevalent in an area.

Typically, bats have two types of sites used for gathering – winter hibernation sites and summer roosting sites. Bats can enter buildings by using existing openings and cracks as small as 3/8 inch to roost in attics.  The summer roosts for maternal colonies (females and their flightless offspring) are usually where humans encounter large numbers of bats.

During the summer, pregnant females are often found congregating in human-made structures where conditions are warm, dry and dark.  Babies are born in May and June and while baby bats have a quick growth rate, flying as soon as three weeks after birth, it can take six to nine weeks for babies to completely wean from their mothers. Source

 

The little creatures may make lifelong bonds

Vampire bats were the center of a study recently in which they were observed in captivity for an extended period of time. The lead co-author of the study is an Ohio State assistant professor. The study found that the vampire bats formed social bonds during captivity that they then maintained once they were released back into the wild. Vampire bat “friendship” is unusual in that individuals pay a cost to help others: They regurgitate food, their ingested blood meals, to feed non-relatives.

For a long time, dogs and dog bites were the primary suspect when a human contracted the rabies virus. However, thanks to a large-scale vaccination campaign started in 1947, deaths from rabies transmitted from dogs have plummeted. A few Americans still get rabies each year and the disease is more likely to come from wild animals, especially bats. In 2015, CDC noticed that in the United States, bats were surpassing raccoons among animals that tested positive for rabies.

For more information on bats and removal, visit Critter Detective.

Vampire bats give a little help to “friends”

In a new study, scientists documented vampire bats developing social bonds during captivity that they maintained once they returned to the wild – a sign that the relationships weren’t borne only of convenience while they lived together in a cage.

Vampire bat cooperation is rare in that individuals pay a cost to help others: They regurgitate food, their ingested blood meals, to feed non-relatives.

“What’s quite common in animal cooperation is doing something where we both benefit simultaneously: Let’s live together, let’s hunt together. I’m benefiting, you’re benefiting,” said the study’s co-lead author Gerald Carter, assistant professor of evolution, ecology and organismal biology at The Ohio State University. via Ohio State News

Summary: Vampire bats were the center of a study recently in which they were observed in captivity for an extended period of time. The lead co-author of the study is an Ohio State assistant professor.

Bats now the primary source of U.S. rabies deaths

For centuries, dog bites had been a leading source of transmitting the rabies virus. Starting in 1947, though, that began to change as the United States launched a massive campaign to have pet owners vaccinate their dogs. Since then, human rabies deaths due to dog bites and scratches have nosedived. A few Americans still get rabies each year. But these cases are now more likely to come from wild animals, a new study finds — especially bats. Read more

Summary: A few Americans still get rabies each year and the disease is more likely to come from wild animals, especially bats. The primary culprit before a massive vaccination campaign in 1947 was dogs.

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