Natural Highlights: Tennessee Bats

    Eastern Red Bat (Lasiurus borealis)

Feared and persecuted for centuries and now facing multiple threats including the menacing disease known as White Nose Syndrome, the 16 bat species which occur in Tennessee are wonders of nature which consume vast numbers of insects, providing millions of dollars worth of agricultural pest control.  Many homeowners now want to attract bats to their property by installing a bat house where bats can shelter during the daytime. Why? Because one bat can consume about 300 mosquitoes an hour on a summer night!  For plans and guidelines on bat house installation, we recommend the Bat Conservation International (BCI) website. Bat houses certified by BCI are also available locally at Wild Birds Unlimited and other locations.

Here are a few interesting facts about bats, and links to more information:

- Bats can live a long time...15-20 years in the wild. They are the longest-lived mammals of their size on earth.  The average wild mouse lives less than a year.

- Bats reproduce slowly.  Females only have 1-2 pups a year.

- Bats are the only mammal with the ability to fly.  Flying squirrels and sugar gliders glide, but don't fly.

- All mammals, including bats, can carry rabies, but it is uncommon. Still, you should never touch a bat, especially one found on the ground.

- Tennessee has two federally listed endangered bat species, the Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis) and the Gray Bat (Myotis griscesens). The once ubiquitous Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus) has been so decimated by WNS it is threatened with extinction before it even makes the list.

- To keep up with bat research in our area, check out the Tennessee Bat Working Group, the Mississippi Bat Working Group, and the Midwest Bat Working Group.  Bat researchers sometimes hold mist-netting events and invite visitors to observe.

- Watch a video about White Nose Syndrome at this link.  Or visit the White Nose Syndrome (WNS) web pages.

- Our local bat experts are Dr. Mike Kennedy at University of Memphis, and his former student, Chris Grow of Ensafe, Inc.  Chris has a website about bats at this link.


Posted by Cathy Justis at 10:33 AM