Look up in the sky! It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a…bat? If you’ve ever seen something go flying by in the night and wondered what it was, it was very likely one of the United States' 40 species of bats. These interesting and, dare we say, adorable mammals sometimes get a bad rap because of the misconceptions about their blood-sucking, southern-hemisphere cousins, the Vampire Bats (which, by the way, feed on animal blood, not human blood). Read on to learn some interesting facts about Central Plains’ most common bats.
Bats are essential to our ecosystem– more than people realize. With many eating their entire body weight in insects (including pesky mosquitoes) every night, these fuzzy flying creatures keep our bug population in check. Some species of bats feed on plant and flower nectar and play an integral role in the pollination of certain plants. While bats vary wildly by species on attributes like color, size, wingspan width, speed, and roosting habits, most bats have a few critical things in common.
- Echolocation: Bats use echolocation to navigate through the night sky. Bats send out a high-frequency sound and then wait for the sound to bounce off of nearby objects and travel back to their ears. In this way, they can fly around in the dark without fear of flying right into a tree, structure, or another bat. They also use echolocation to locate tasty bugs for dinner.
- Migration: Most bats travel to warmer climates during the colder fall and winter months. Migration often coincides with hibernation and/or mating season.
- Nocturnal: Bats sleep during the day (and yes, they do hang upside down). At night, they fly through the sky, eating their fill of bugs.
- One baby: Most bat species give birth to only one pup every year. Mother bats are protective and loyal to their pups and can identify their one pup from thousands of others just by scent and sound.
Do Bats Live In Trees?
Certain solitary bat species do like to roost in trees. Many bat species live in colonies, and those bats typically choose to bunk in caves if accessible. Additionally, because of the widespread availability of man-made spaces such as warehouse buildings, bridges, and even residential houses, many homes, and business owners are upset when they discover bats roosting in their spaces. Bats choose these types of roosts for their warmth and safety.
Types Of Bats In Central Plains
There are a handful of different bat species that make their home in the humid continental climate of the Central Plains area. When you’re sitting outside at dusk, and you see a bat, see if you can determine its species.
- Silver-haired Bats are medium in size. They spend some of their time in the Central Plains and then migrate south for the winter to hibernate. These black bats with silver-tipped fur like to spend time roosting in trees; they are seldom found in homes or buildings.
- Red Bats are also mid-size bats. They act similarly to their silver-haired cousins, migrating south during the fall and winter months to seek warmer climates. While they are in the Central Plains, they are commonly found in forested areas near a body of water. These solitary bats are rarely seen in cities and homes. Their distinguishing feature is their red-to-orange color.
- Hoary Bats are among the largest bat species in the country. These brown, grey, and white bats have fur that takes on a frosted appearance. They make their homes in forests but are also found in cities. In the colder months, they follow normal migratory patterns.
- Big Brown Bats and Little Brown Bats are two of the most prolific bat species in the country. Keep reading to learn about these common bats.
Little Brown Bat
If you’ve ever seen a bat in the flesh, the odds are good it was a Little Brown Bat. These little guys are the most common type of bat in the United States. With round eyes, a pig-like nose, and ears the size of their head, some would even call them cute. Almost minuscule in size, they weigh around half an ounce and are only 2 to 4 inches in height. When their wings are outstretched, though, their wingspan can be nearly a foot long! Lengthy wings and tiny bodies give the Little Brown Bat a lot of flying power–these mini bats can reach speeds of almost 35 miles per hour.
Little Brown Bats feed on insects such as beetles and moths, and they can actually consume up to half their body weight in bugs per feeding. They use their extra sharp teeth to chow down on their feast, but don’t worry: Little Brown Bats do not bite humans.
Big Brown Bat
Big Brown Bats are also common in the United States, as they can withstand a variety of climates. They often live in cities and shack up in houses, buildings, and even sewers and storm drains. These brownish-red bats are about twice the size of their ‘little’ counterparts, weighing in at about an ounce. Their outstretched wings can reach lengths of over 13 inches! In flight, they can soar at 40 miles per hour.
A meal of wasps, beetles, and flies would be perfect for a Big Brown Bat. Their sharp teeth are perfect for biting through tough insect shells. They even catch their food mid-air and eat in flight–bugs to go, anyone?
Both Little Brown Bats and Big Brown Bats are not thought to migrate, and if they do, they only travel short distances to find a suitable winter home. Because these bats are not opposed to shacking up in man-made dwellings, that suitable winter home just might be your attic.
CP Bat Mitigation Can Help
If you need a safe, humane, and legal bat removal solution and you live in the Midwest regions of Iowa, South Dakota, Minnesota, or North Dakota, CP Bat Mitigation can help. With over ten years of experience in responsible bat extermination, our experts know exactly how to get those winged creatures out of your home or business and into a more natural roost. Call or message us today to set up your free, on-site consultation and estimate.