Bats are flying mammals in the order Chiroptera (from the Greek words that mean “hand wing”). These creepy little mammals have been around for at least 50 million years. They live on every continent except Antarctica and can be found in every environment except for the most extreme areas of desert and ice. The forelimbs of bats are webbed and developed as wings, making them the only mammals naturally capable of true and sustained flight. Bats use a thin membrane stretched over their digits to actually fly. However, other mammals such as flying squirrels can only glide rather than fly, and only for short distances. Anyone who has ever owned a sugar glider knows that they can only glide, hence their cute name.
Most bats in the United States typically mate in the fall or winter before going into hibernation. In approximately May or June, female bats gather in large groups, or bat colonies, to give birth. Since bats are mammals, they do not lay eggs. Instead, a mother bat will give birth to her babies upside down! What a remarkable feat!
Young bats are known as pups, and usually only one is born per litter. Female bats give birth while hanging upside down, then catch and place the pup inside their pouches for safety. When the mother goes in search of food, the pup stays behind, clinging to a wall within the roost waiting for her return. Mother bats will return several times during the night to feed their young.
About seventy percent of bats eat insects. The rest of them will eat fruit. However, there a few species of bat that will feed on animals, such as the vampire bat. But don't worry, there are only three species of vampire bats, and all of them live FAR away from Memphis! The bats in Memphis only feed on insects and they really help control mosquitoes and other insects that are harmful to crops. Bats are important pollinators for many plants around the world, including the crops here in Mid-South. Also, did you know that a single little brown bat can eat up to 1,200 mosquitoes in a single hour? That's a good bat!
Histoplasmosis is caused by a fungus found primarily in the areas drained by the Mississippi and Ohio rivers. Both humans and animals can be affected. The disease is transmitted to humans by airborne fungus spores from soil contaminated by pigeon, starling, and bat droppings as well as from the droppings of other birds. However, it takes at least 2 years worth of droppings for the disease organism to reach significant levels.
Rabies is a dangerous, fatal disease, but only about 5 percent of bats submitted for testing are infected with the rabies virus. In recent years, there has been increased concern about the risk of rabies transmission following contact with bats. If an injured or ill bat is found in or around a structure, it should be removed. Because most bats will try to bite when handled, they should be picked up with tongs or a shovel.
Bats use a lot of energy flying around and must consume a lot of food, such as insects, to fuel their daily activities. When cold weather drives insects away, bats must choose to hunker down and hibernate or migrate to warmer areas with more abundant food supply. Some bat species hibernate, some migrate, and some do both. And in temperate climates, like Florida, bats may be able to stay year round. Hibernation involves an extreme reduction in metabolic rate, heart rate, and respiratory rate that allows a bat to survive long periods of time without food. A bat's heart rate drops from 200-300 beats per minute to 10 beats per minute, and it may go minutes without taking a breath. The bat's body temperature can also drop to near freezing, depending on the temperature of the bat's surroundings. Other bodily functions also slow down, which reduces energy costs by about 98%.
An attic can make a nice, cozy home for most bat species, as they prefer to live in sheltered, dry, warm places. These winged mammals also prefer dark locations because of their nocturnal nature. Attics provide better shelter than just about anywhere else, so if a bat can get in, it’s likely to start roosting there. Then it becomes your responsibility to get them out again.
Bats can get into attics in a number of ways. Since they are small and flexible, many species can enter a space through a gap the size of a dime. One of the most common ways bats enter residential structures is through a vent. Vents typically blow warm air, they’re protected from the elements and they are placed out of sight lines on most homes. That makes them the perfect place to roost. Some bats will follow the warm air and crawl inside the vent, often making it all the way to the attic.
If you think you may have bats in your home, give Apex Wildlife Control a call today. Our skilled technicians are trained to remove bats safely and humanely from your home. We're here to help!