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Only in the last fifty years have we learned the true nature of bats. They live and fly at night and love caves. Their silent, darting flight have made them the subjects of a great deal of folklore and superstition through the years. . Actually, bats are superbly adapted creatures that have evolved to exploit resources such as night-flying insects. They do just about everything at night.



Bats are the only mammals capable of true flight. Their fore limbs have the same configuration as other mammals', but the bones of the fingers are greatly elongated to support membraneous wings. Their hind limbs are modified to allow them to alight and hang, head-down, by their toes.









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Bats feed at night. Most locate their food and navigate by uttering a continuous series of ultrasonic cries that return as echoes when the cries hit solid objects. In the daytime they seek shelter in a wide variety of places: caves, mines, buildings, rock crevices, under tree bark and amid foliage. When resting and hibernating, bats can lower their body temperature to nearly match the environment and thus lower their motabolism and conserve energy.

Bats are an important part of the natural system. They help control nocturnal insects, some of which are agricultural pests or annoying to man. Many forms of cave life depend upon the nutrients brought in by bats and released from their guano (feces). And bats have contributed much to man's knowledge through scientific studies of their echolocation abilities, their biology and certain aspects of their physiology.

Bat populations have been declining at an alarming rate in recent years. Some of the more important causes of this decline are destruction of habitat, pesticides and disturbance. Loss of roosting and foraging habitat has resulted from reservoir construction, watershed development, forest conversion, urbanization and cave commercialization.



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