Our next project is learning about BATS and the construction of some bat houses.
We will attempt to answer the following questions:
Some of the most common bat species to occupy bat houses in northeastern states are as followed: eastern long-eared bat, little brown bat, evening bat, eastern pipistrelle, and big brown bat. All of these bats are a light to dark brown in color.
Five species of myotine bats are known from Missouri:
Bats have low rates of reproduction. Most species produce one or two young in a litter; bats of temperate areas have one litter a year, and those in tropical regions may have two. Some species that hibernate (Vespertilionidae, Rhinolophidae, and other families) have unusual reproductive cycles. Mating takes place in fall and the females store sperm in their reproductive tracts during winter; ovulation and fertilization occur in the spring. The gestation period for most of these species is about 40-70 days and for some up to 100 days.
Their mothers, who may move them from one roost to another, nurse baby bats from pectoral mammary glands. Some young bats first fly at about the age of three weeks, a time corresponding to the replacement of milk teeth by permanent teeth and the initiation of weaning.
Species that roost in caves, trees, or buildings often form huge colonies. Some caves in the American Southwest harbor millions of Mexican free-tailed bats (Molossidae) every summer. Taking a photo can be vey hard.
Austin Texas' Congress Avenue Bridge must be a great place to view bats.
Parasites excepted, few predators feed exclusively on bats. Occasionally many animals, including hawks, owls, mice, skunks, foxes, and snakes, will eat bats. Bat hawks in Africa and New Guinea appear to eat only bats, and carnivorous bats probably also prey upon other bats. Mortality among bats is usually accidental or associated with human activity. Some temperate species are remarkably long-lived; little brown bats have been recorded as living 30 years, but 10 years is probably more common in that species.
Most bats in the United States eat insects. As a matter of fact, one little brown bat can eat more than 600 mosquito-sized insects in a single hour. Bats eat half their body weight a night (that would be like an adult having to eat 30-40 large pizzas!).
All bat houses should be at least two feet tall, 14 inches or more wide, and have a 3-6-inch landing area extending below the entrance. Most houses have 1-4 roosting chambers. Roost partitions should be carefully spaced 3/4 to 1 inch apart. All partitions and landing areas should be roughened. Wood surfaces can be scratched or covered with durable plastic screening (1/8 or 1/4-inch mesh, available from companies such as Internet, Inc. at 1-800-328-8456). Include vents six inches from the bottoms of all houses to be used where average July high temperatures are 85 F, or above. Front vents are as long as a house is wide; side vents 6 inches tall by 1/2 inch wide.
Bat houses need to be placed up at least 15 feet above ground and need roughly 6 hours of sunlight, although the amount of sunlight varies if you are in the extreme south. Most houses used by bats are occupied in the first 1 to 6 months. If bats are not roosting in your house by the end of the second summer, move the house to another location.
Some bat education books that you may wish to read include Stellaluna, by Janell Cannon, America's Neighborhood Bats, by Merlin Tuttle, Amazing Bats, by Eyewitness Junior collection, and Mammals of the Great Lakes Region, by Allen Kurta.
Featured article from BATS magazine.
Bat Conservation International, Inc.
Jim Buzbee's Bat Links Page
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Last updated on 11/03/98 10:06 PM