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Friday, October 23, 2009

REAL BATS VISIT THE LOCAL LIBRARY

areUNDER CONTROL IS A BIG-EARED BAT

Yes, live bats were in the library but not loose and flying around scaring the patrons. The live bats were part of a community presentation at the Madison County Berea Library in Kentucky which was open to all ages.

Presenter, GaryLibby, wildlife biologist, discussed interesting facts about bats that included the fact they are important to our ecology by controlling insect pests in large quantities. Also, he mentioned that bats cannot exist near polluted water as larvae are a food source. In the U.S. bats have become more at risk as humans continue to create disturbances near bat's habitats.

Big- eared bats are considered considered big for the bat world. Also, as their name signifies, they have larger ears than most other bat species. One of the young children in the audience gave out a friendly squeal that its ears, "looked like a bunny rabbit."

A main diet item of these bats is moths. If you happen by a tree with lots of holes, such as a snag, and find moth wings on the ground -- you'll know a bat was probably feeding there.


MANY CHILDREN ATTENDED -- GARY GAVE THEM THE OPPORTUNITY TO TOUCH THE WING OF THE BIG-EARED BAT -- THE CHILDREN WERE FASCINATED AND LINED UP TO DO SO.

Gary listed three myths about bats: 1) they don't get tangled in anyone's hair 2) they don't suck your blood, only Vampire bats do and they live in South America and 3) they rarely carry rabies, not anymore than raccoons, possums, cats, or dogs. He also pointed out that bats have no interest in biting you -- only caught insects which are their main diet.

The bags (pillowcases) hanging on the coat-rack in back of Gary had individual live bats in them. He had taken them from a local cave the night before and will place them back in their cave after the presentation. He said taking a hanging bat from a cave is like picking apples. You just reach up and pluck one. Of course he did not recommend it for untrained and unvaccinated folks.

ONE OF THE SMALLEST BATS IN THE U.S. -- EASTERN PIPSTERELLE

These tiny bats are sometimes called, "butterfly bats" due to their small size. They hibernate in caves in the winter and have one or two "pups" (babies) in the spring. Males live to about 15 years while the females only 10 years.

They usually feed over open water and can catch insects every two seconds increasing their mass in a half hour by 25%.

Predators of all bats include snakes, feral cats, raccoons, owls, and hawks.

Overall, the presentation gave exposure to an animal that has a bad rap. When one has an opportunity to view one close up and hear the facts about them -- you realize that they are an important wild critter within our natural world providing an ecological niche.

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