When you think of Halloween you may think all things spooky. Your spooky list may contain things like ghosts, witches, vampires, and even bats, but bats aren’t really scary at all! They are actually a great asset to our ecosystem. Did you know that they are more closely related to primates than they are rodents?
Surprisingly, not all bats live in creepy caves like you may imagine. They often live in trees, under bridges, and in abandoned buildings. It is likely that some of them are even living right in your backyard! Unfortunately, habitat loss is a major threat to bats. If you feel inclined to provide bats with some safe places to live consider making bat boxes. Bat boxes provide homes for bats in areas that may lack natural habitat. They are designed to mimic tight, dark spaces which is what bats look for in a home.
It is important to replenish bat’s habitat because they provide us with a number of benefits. According to Bat Conservation International, one little brown bat can eat 1,000 mosquito-sized insects in one hour! Bats tend to eat their weight in bugs in just one night. According to the Center for Biological Diversity, bats provide about $3.7 billion to $53 billion in pest-control every year. They are also great flower pollinators and fruit-eating bats aid in seed dispersal. Even those blood sucking vampire bats are beneficial creatures. The enzyme they produce to prevent blood clotting is being studied by scientists with the hopes of it being used in an anticoagulant medication. The name of this potential drug? Draculin, of course!
Bats are so important to our ecosystem that they have been deemed a keystone species. Keystone species are animals that other species in an ecosystem depend on to live.
Drastic changes would occur if bats were removed from our ecosystem. For example, a lack of seed dispersal from bats would cause a decrease in fruit-bearing trees. Those trees would likely be a critical food source to other species. Keystone species are the first step in the domino effect of an ecosystem.
Now that you’ve learned how wonderful bats are consider coming to visit ours! Our African straw-colored fruit bats would love to see you this October in the Wildlife Lodge.
Written by Christa Fryling