Sunday, January 31, 2010

Bats in Crisis

There is a disease spreading among bats that is wiping out large populations of the only winged mammal. A disease commonly called "white nose" (for the fungus that grows on the nose of some affected bats) is killing them off in large numbers. It is even leading to calls for the government to close all known bat caves to the general public due to fears that cavers are actually spreading the disease.

Loathed by many and downright feared by some, bats are a hugely important part of any ecosystem. Depending on the species, they feed mostly on insects and fruit. Then, of course, there are the few species that eat blood, typically from mammals or birds (again, species dependent). Those that eat insects will consume an astonishing amount. There are an estimated 20 million bats in the Bracken Cave in Texas, and they eat an estimated 200 tons of insects every night! Yes, 200 tons of insects every night!!! Bats are amazing creatures, and certainly need to be saved. For more information, visit Bat Conservation International which currently owns the Bracken Cave and many other bat caves around the country.

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