Bats have long been a source of fascination for people around the world, being featured in a variety of tales, in positive as well as negative ways. The origin of bats is prominent in the folklore of several Native American tribes. In one Cherokee fable, birds fashioned the first bat and the first flying squirrel from two mouse-like creatures who wished to participate in a ball game between the “animals” and the birds.
Bats in Missouri
There are over 1,000 recognized species of bats world-wide, with 46 species present in the United States, and only 14 species in Missouri. Bats belong to the order Chiroptera, which means “hand-wing”, and they are the only mammals capable of true flight. The most common bats we encounter here at the Lake are the little brown bat and the big brown bat.
Physical Features of Bats
Bats come in a large range of sizes, from the 6.5-inch wingspan of the bumblebee bat to the 6-foot wingspan of the giant golden-crowned flying fox. In Missouri, the tri-colored bat (formerly known as the eastern pipistrelle) is the smallest species, while the hoary bat is the largest. Missouri bats range in weight from 1/10 ounce to 1 ounce dependent on species.
Missouri’s Wildlife Code On Bats, Endangered and Otherwise
All bats are protected by the provisions of the Wildlife Code of Missouri, and several species of bats are considered endangered. Bats must not be disturbed or excluded from roosting sites while young are present. Maternity season is between the months of May and August. That is why it is essential to call the trained, professional trappers at Adair’s Animal Nuisance Trapping when bats enter homes and businesses to determine if young are present.
Missouri bats do not feed on blood like the vampire bats native to Latin America. The diet of Missouri bats consists of nocturnal flying insects, some of which are agricultural pests, and others (mosquitoes) which are annoying to people. A single little brown bat can eat up to 1,000 mosquitoes in a single hour!
Most bats roost in caves, although a few species roost in trees, and three of the species found in Missouri commonly roost in buildings and attics. It is important not to disturb roosting bats found in the wild, as most large colonies of bats that you may come across are likely endangered. Do not shine your light on the bats, and leave the area quickly and quietly. Bats are under a lot of stress right now, as a new disease called white nose syndrome is killing huge numbers of bats in the United States.
Breeding and Social Structure
Most Missouri bats breed during autumn, but the females delay fertilization until the following spring. The gestation period lasts only a few weeks and baby bats are generally born in May or June. Most female bats produce only one pup per year, although some species can give birth to three or four babies at a time. Most young are able to fly in two to five weeks.
Signs of Bats
Risks Associated with Bats
Bats in Missouri can carry a variety of parasites, including fleas, a bat bug (closely related to the bed bug), ticks, and mites. Bat guano can also be a source of histoplasmosis (a fungal infection which primarily affects the lungs). Very occasionally, bats can carry rabies, but this only happens in less than half of one percent of bats. Also, most bats that contract rabies die quickly and rarely show the aggressiveness shown by rabid dogs and cats, so humans are very rarely exposed to rabies by bats.
If you are having problems with bats in your Lake of the Ozarks area house or business, call the professionals at Adair’s Animal Nuisance Trapping. Our experienced team of trained trappers will make sure the bats are safely handled and excluded from your buildings while ensuring that the impact to endangered and protected species is limited. Adair’s also offers wildlife proofing, cleanup, and exclusion services after bat eviction is completed.