PENNSYLVANIA (WHTM) — Oct. 22 to Oct. 28 is considered to be National Bat Week and the state of Pennsylvania is full of different species of bats.
According to the Pennsylvania Game Commission, bats are the only mammals that can fly. Bats found in Pennsylvania range in size from 5.1 to 5.9 inches and weigh up to 1.5 ounces. They can also be as little as 2.9 to 3.5 inches long and only weigh .14 to .25 ounces.
Nine species of bats are found in the state, with six of them staying and hibernating in the state, with the other three migrating south for the winter.
- Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus)
- Northern Long-Eared Bat (Myotis septentrionalis)
- Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis)
- Small-Footed Bat (Myotis leibii)
- Silver-Haired Bat (Lasionycteris noctivagans)
- Tri-colored Bat (Perimyotis subflavus)
- Big Brown Bat (Eptesicus fuscus)
- Red Bat (Lasiurus borealis)
- Hoary Bat (Lasiurus cinereus)
The commission says that Pennsylvania also sometimes sees two bats that are from the south. They are evening bats and Seminole bats. However, these bats are considered rare in the state.
Bats are insect eaters, with some feeding over water and others feeding off leaves and even swooping down. Bats can consume up to 25% of their weight in a single feeding, with the small species eating nearly one million insects each year.
The eyes on these animals are small but they can see well, and even are able to catch their prey in complete darkness. They often let out a series of high-pitched squeaks, but the pitch of these squeaks is so high that humans cannot hear them. The squeaks bounce off nearby objects and bounce back to the bat’s well-developed ears.
Sometimes during flight, bats can use the skin between their legs to capture and eat prey right out of midair. If an insect takes last-second evasive action, the bat may flick out a wing, nab its prey, and draw the insect back to its mouth.
Some bats can live a very long time, with the oldest bat on record being 41 years old. However, the majority of bats live into their 20s.
You will typically never see a bat flying during the brighter hours of daylight, as they tend to feed during the late afternoon, early evening, and dusk. However, it is not unheard of the see a bat flying during the day. The Commission said that roost disturbance and heat stress might cause bats to take wing during daylight hours.
The greatest threat to bats comes from humans. The Game Commission says that highway mortalities, wind farms, introduced diseases, and disturbances while hibernating are the most common threats humans pose to bats.
The commission says that bats are misunderstood and often feared by humans. Misconceptions such as bats being prone to rabies their droppings being a dangerous source of tuberculosis and how they are often aggressive to humans are what cause humans to be afraid of the creature add to humans being afraid of them.
Bats are no more likely to contract rabies than other warm-blooded animals, according to the commission, and there is no evidence to suggest that bats transmit tuberculosis to man. Healthy bats do not attack people, according to many scientific studies and even rabid bats stay clear of people.
For more information about bats, click here.