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This bat may have big eyes, but it has an even bigger stomach!

Boo! October is Bat Appreciation Month, and we’re celebrating with some facts about these mysterious creatures. Bats are often misunderstood or looked at as a nuisance. However, they are very intelligent, adaptive animals that provide many benefits to humankind, most notably as heavy insect-eaters. Here are some facts you may not know about these unique animals:

  • Bats can eat over 100% of their weight in insects each night, which is over 3,000 bugs! Because of their healthy appetites, bats have been valued at around $22 billion per year to America’s agricultural industry.
  • There are over 1,000 unique bat species.
  • Bats can live for more than 30 years and fly at speeds of up to 60 miles per hour.
  • More than half of the bat species in the US are in severe decline or listed as endangered. One of the direst threats is white-nose syndrome, a disease that has decimated bat populations across much of our country. Another issue is wind turbines, which can harm bats by striking or causing a drop in air pressure that impacts the animals internally.
  • Most female bats have only one pup per year, making them extremely vulnerable to extinction. Some bat species, however, can have twins!
  • Bat droppings, called guano, is one of the richest fertilizers.
  • The world’s largest bat has a wingspan of up to six feet, while the world’s smallest bat can weigh less than a penny.

Bats are also very important to humans because they are pollinators, meaning they distribute pollen to other flowers resulting in the production of fruit or seeds.

This month, you can support bat conservation right here at the Zoo! AfricanBats NPC, a group aimed at conserving the diversity of Africa’s bats through education, is one of our fall 2018 Quarters for Conservation (Q4C) projects. Twenty-five cents of each admission to the Zoo goes toward Q4C, where you will receive a “quarter” token to use to cast your vote for whichever conservation project most inspires you! If you’re feeling extra passionate, you are welcome to drop in “real” quarters or dollar bills to support a project.

You can also help these special creatures of the night by building your very own bat house! Bat species worldwide are experiencing habitat loss, so building a shelter can give our bat friends a safe and comfortable place to stay. Bat houses can be made from plywood, and painted a certain color based on your location.

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