Perhaps since I still had bats on the brain, I ran across a children’s/YA book on bats. It’s called The Bat Scientists. The author is Mary Carson and the photographer is Tom Uhlman.
I was really impressed with both its information and photography. The updated edition came out just this month and has the latest information on WNS and conservation.
Even though it’s a children’s book, it seems like a great quick introduction for adults and teenagers, and has materials in the back for further research.
A few facts from the book, some I knew, some were new to me.
- Bats aren’t blind-they see fairly well.
- They aren’t going to get tangled in your hair-bats avoid people and fly too well to get in hair.
- Bats are often called flying rats or mice, but they aren’t rodents. Some scientists think they’re primitive primate relatives.
- They’re the only mammal capable of true flight. (As opposed to gliding.)
- For their size, bats are the longest lived mammals on earth-even the small ones can live for 40 years! (With mammals generally the larger the size the longer the life span.)
- Since people associate them with the short lived and fast breeding mouse, they assume bats work the same way, but bats breed very slowly-most have at most one offspring a year. The author quotes biologist Barbara French “One lost baby bat is a lost generation.”
- Less than one half of one percent have rabies-they’re not crazy flying animals out to get you.
It also mentioned an interesting project I’d not heard about. The Bellamy Cave Project. Apparently Bellamy Cave in Tennessee is a major hibernation cave for the endangered gray bat. Last year the Nature Conservancy is mad a concrete cave nearby. The idea was that a concrete cave could be cleaned out and disinfected come spring, hopefully slowing the spread of WNS.
They had limited time last year and finished construction after hibernation started, but they did have a few guests. They’re hoping to see more visitors this year since the precast/prefabricated concrete cave will be ready and the proper temperature in time for hibernation season.