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Bat Week

By Bodhi Nithyananda

Big brown bats hanging upside down by Bodhi Nithyananda

With Halloween only a few days away, it’s a great time to do something positive for bats as part of International Bat Appreciation Week, Oct 24-31. This annual October celebration brings awareness to the Chiroptera family, one of the oldest living mammal families on earth.  

There are over 900 bat species that inhabit our Earth, with ancestors going back 50 million years. For all that history, a bat’s lifestyle and role in our ecosystem has not only been misunderstood but has come to be known as scary and harmful, especially at Halloween. International Bat Week, which is organized by Bat Conservation International, U.S. Forest Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Wildlife Acoustics and more, saw the need for promoting bats as creatures that are vital to the health of our natural world and economy. Every night bats eat tons of insects, pollinate flowers and spread seeds but they need help. Bat numbers are declining in part because they are losing habitat at a rapid rate and this translates to not enough food, a need for more places to raise their pups or young, and safe places to hibernate. 

Bat under barn by Bodhi Nithyananda

Here in Delaware Ohio, the Big Brown Bats (Eptesicus fucus) that were roosting in our bat house all summer, providing daily evening entertainment with their chittering communication, guano for our garden, and keeping garden pests at bay, left just two weeks ago for winter hibernation. Ohio is home to 10 other bat species and Preservation Parks is working to improve bat habitat by putting up roosting boxes in the parks. Using a Wildlife Acoustics Echo Meter during summer’s dusk at some of the parks, we identified 8 of the 11 bat species by their call including Big Brown Bat – Eptesicus fuscus, Hoary Bat – Lasiurus cinereus, Silver-Haired Bat – Lasionycteris noctivagans, Northern Long-Eared Bat – Myotis septentrionalis, Little Brown Bat – Myotis lucifugus, – Eastern Red Bat – Lasiurus borealis, Tri-colored Bat – Perimyotis subflavus. Most of these bats will migrate to mountainous regions south of Ohio, looking for a suitable cave.  

What can you do to help during Bat Week? Don’t disturb hibernating bats in caves, attics or other places you may come upon them. When hibernating bats are disturbed and awakened, they will not be able to find enough food to survive in the colder winter months. Become a bat advocate by learning more about bats and spreading the word on social media (#BatWeek). Build or install a bat house for next year’s migrating bats to have a habitat to call home. 

You can learn more about bats here: BAT APPRECIATION WEEK – October 24-31, 2022 – National Today

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