Job October 24, 2022 | 2:23 p.m.
A legendary mammal’s ecological contributions earn it a month all to itself
They are the subject of 19th century literature, often feared movie stars over the years, and icons of Halloween. Dispelling myths and lore, winged mammals, even the legendary vampire bat, are not native to Transylvania, but rather prefer the humid, arid climates that stretch from Mexico to South America.
Floridians don’t need to don neck warmers because none of the 13 bat species that inhabit Florida feed on blood. And, of 1,400 species of bats worldwide, only three feed on the blood of domestic animals such as cattle, horses and pigs.
The Mexican free-tailed bat is a species of winged mammal that lives in Florida.
When you’re sharpening your fangs for that Halloween costume, here are some fun bat facts to contemplate:
- Three of the most common bat species that reside in Florida are the Mexican free-tailed bat, the Seminole bat, and the southeastern bat.
- When you enjoy a bug-free evening outdoors, a bat may be to thank, as at night it eats its weight in mosquitoes, beetles, wasps, ants and other insects.
- Insect control by bats is estimated to save more than $23 billion in agricultural losses in the United States.
- Bat poop – guano – is so rich in nutrients like nitrogen and potassium that it is harvested in some places for agricultural use and organic farming.
- Did you know that bats are pollinators? In tropical and desert climates, bats not only eat insects, but also feed on the fruits and nectar of flowers, helping those flowers transfer their pollen in the process. More than 500 species of flowers and 67 families of plants depend on bats to help them pollinate or disperse seeds after eating fruit.
- Bats are not blind, but they hunt using echolocation. Their high-pitched chirps help them hunt flying insects and avoid dangers in their path.
- Bat wings are similar to human hands, each with a thumb and four fingers, and are sometimes used to scoop food towards their mouths, much like humans use their hands.
The best opportunity to view bats is outdoors at dusk. A dimly lit yard, by a lake, field, or your nearest county conservation park Where nature reserve offer many options for watching bats at sunset. Just be aware of closing times so you don’t get spooked by that spooky creature, the Ranger, this Halloween season!
Photo Info: The best opportunity to view bats is outdoors at dusk.