Bats are incredible, amazing and often misunderstood animals.
Minnesota is home to eight different species of bats. The most common is the Big Brown Bat. Along with the Northern long-eared bat, these bats hibernate in the winter in Minnesota caves and mines. Others migrate south. In the summer they inhabit caves, hollow trees and old buildings. The Big Brown Bat can be distinguished from the very similar Little Brown Myotis (aka “Little Brown Bat”) by its larger snout and eyes.
Why are bats amazing?
- They can eat up to 1,200 insects in an hour. That’s a lot of mosquitoes and beetles!
- They catch prey in their cupped tail membrane and transfer it to their mouth in flight.
- Some species of bats pollinate our beloved bananas, avocados and mangoes.
- Bats are the only flying mammal!
- Bats locate insects and dodge obstacles using echolocation. As they fly, they constantly emit supersonic cries. Their ears pick up echoes bouncing off objects. These echoes either guide bats toward prey or away from obstacles. Discovery of this unique principle led to development of sonar and radar by which boats and planes navigate, and fishermen locate schools of fish.
Rather than be frightened or creeped out by bats, let’s celebrate the critical role they play in a healthy ecosystem.