Bat Facts and Folklore » Center for Ecology and Conservation Biology » Boston Universityby Dr. Kunz, Boston University. Adapted from: Kunz, T. H. The American Biology Teacher, 4. Myths, Legends, and Folklore. Diversity and Distribution. Characteristics. Food Habits.
Roosting and Social Habits. Echolocation: Seeing with Ears. Daily and Nightly Activity. Migration. Hibernation.
Conservation. Health Concerns and Precautions. Impact of Bats on Property. Prevention and Control.
Myths, Legends, and Folklore. The news media, movies, television, and comic books often perpetuate myths, “old- wives- tales,” folklore, legends, and fears about bats that a surprising number of people believe. Bats do not get into your hair, they are not flying mice, they don’t come “out of hell,” they are not blind, and only three species (not in the U. S. The ancient Egyptians believed that bats could prevent or cure poor eyesight, toothache, fever, and baldness, and a bat hung over the doorway of a home was thought to prevent the entry of demons that carried these “diseases.” Bat gods were important to many pre- Colombian civilizations in central America, and bats have been used in voodoo worship in parts of Africa as well as in many parts of the Caribbean even today. The association of bats with the legend of human vampires has an uncertain origin, but since the time of Cortez and his Conquistadors, peoples of western civilization have linked vampire bats with the legendary “human” vampires of Transylvania.
The writings of William Shakespeare, Robert Louis Stevenson, and others have contributed to legends that cast a veil of fear on people, as they associate bats with graveyards, death, ghosts, and goblins. To the Chinese, bats are regarded as symbols of happiness and good fortune (health, wealth, serenity, virtue, and long life). At one time Chinese mothers would sew small jade buttons in the shape of a bat on the caps of their babies, a custom believed to impart long life. Ancient and modern- day art objects, tapestries, Imperial robes, home furnishings and the like often include bats as part of the motif.
- Bat (order Chiroptera), any member of the only group of mammal s capable of flight. This ability, coupled with the ability to navigate at night by using a system of acoustic orientation (echolocation), has made the bats a.
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Back to Top. Diversity and Distribution. Bats belong to the mammalian Order Chiroptera, meaning “hand- wing.” Some members of this group of flying mammals have existed (in their present form) for at least 5. Approximately 1,1. Bats are second only to rodents in number of species and they probably outnumber all other mammals in total numbers. Bats are distributed on every continent except Antarctica and they are known from many oceanic islands. The overwhelming number of species live in tropical regions. North American Continent, north of Mexico.
As well as being classified as Endangered on the IUCN Red List 2007, the Indiana bat is also listed as Endangered under the Endangered Species Act of 1973. As an outcome of this, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has drawn. Secret #8: A $5 party gimmick that has the power to shock and disorient a home invader so he can't see what he's shooting at. Secret #29: How to turn your toilet and. A grey-headed flying fox clings to a carer at the bat release facility in Cleveland.
Characteristics. Adult bats found in North America range in weight from approximately two grams (0. The skeletal features of bats are comparable to those of humans and most other mammals. Unlike most birds which have hollow bones, the bones of bats are typically small and delicate. The bones of the wings are lengthened to provide support for the wing membranes. A highly resilient double membrane stretches between the elongated fingers, attaches to the side of the body, and extends to the ankle. Food Habits. In temperate North America, bats feed almost exclusively on insects. In the warm months of the year individuals may eat up to one- half of their body weight on a given night.
If this level of consumption is extrapolated to a population of 5. New England), this would amount to over 1. Many bats are also important predators of insect pests, including mosquitoes, biting midges, beetles, and moths. Thus, in reality bats are really valuable controllers of insects. Vampire bats feed exclusively on blood by licking it from small cuts they make in the skin with razor sharp teeth. However, these small blood- eating bats are only found in the American tropics, ranging southward from central Mexico, down to Brazil, thus there is nothing to fear from vampire bats in the United States and Canada. Roosting and Social Habits.
Many bats are gregarious animals which may seek daytime shelter in a variety of man- made structures. Bats do not build nests; instead, when at rest most species cling to walls and ceilings of caves and to rafters of buildings using their hind feet. Their wings are folded next to the body. Bats that roost in small crevices commonly assume a horizontal posture. Most female bats give birth during a two to three week period in early summer when there is an abundance of food.
American bats usually give birth to a single annual litter of one or two offspring that may weigh from 2. This is comparable to a 1. Female bats suckle their young with milk and weaning usually occurs at the age of four to six weeks. Most bats grow rapidly and reach 9. Some bats found in the tropics make their own roosts called “tents” from the large leaves found in the rainforest. The bats chew on the veins of the leaves so that the leaf collapses downward forming a tent- like structure. Back to Top. Echolocation: Seeing with Ears.
Although bats do have eyes, most cannot see very well. They compensate for this lack by having a biosonar system (called echolocation). Echolocation allows bats to navigate in total darkness and to detect and capture food on the wing. In order to perform this feat, many bats have evolved specialized facial structures and bizarre looking ears designed for sound production and hearing. When hunting or flying in the dark bats produce pulses of high frequency sounds and detect the echoes returning from moving or stationary objects. Humans usually cannot hear echolocation calls produced by bats since they are produced at frequencies above our hearing sensitivity (> 2. Hz). Some sounds made in a social context made by roosting bats and sometimes by flying bats are audible to the human ear.
Among the nearly 1,1. Most species of echolocating bats transmit these chirps at durations of 0. Some chirps are frequency modulated (FM) in the ultrasonic range of 1.
Hz (kilohertz). For example, the common big brown bat (Eptesicus fuscus) sweeps two frequency ranges simultaneously (approximately 5. Hz in the first harmonic and 1. Hz in the second. This and other species that produce pure FM signals use their sounds as broadband signals, deriving images by integrating echo information across many frequencies. Distance or range from the target is determined by assessing the delay of FM echoes. For example, in an echo with a known signal- to- noise ratio of 3. B (decibel), the big brown bat can detect delay changes of about 4.
The shape of the target can be determined with great accuracy. The integration time for echo processing by the big brown bat is about 3. Thus, if echo components are in the range 5. The interference spectrum of the overlapping echoes is what represents the echo time separation of the so- called “glints,” and the bat is able to convert the echo spectrum back into the echo time separation. Other species such as Old- world leaf- nosed bats emit complex signals that include a relatively long constant- frequency (CF) signal followed or preceded by FM signals. For example, the horseshoe bat, Rhinolophus ferrumequinum, emits CF components as narrowband signals, with the individual frequency serving as a carrier for the frequency and amplitude modulations that the flutter of their insect prey imposes on echoes.
This and other bats prefers fluttering targets which they can identify by registering the frequency of CF echoes with great accuracy. To do so, they must characterize “glints” within an echo from the head and wing tips. They use a kind of spectrum analyzer that zooms in to expand the display of the CF frequency region. The ears of bats can hear both the emitted sounds and their echoes. This is accomplished because the auditory system of echolocating bats has thousands of parallel channels–auditory receptors and associated neurons– tuned to different frequencies across the ultrasonic range of sounds. The spacing of these frequencies defines a scale that the bats use to encode the FM sweeps as spectrograms. The echo and emission spectrograms are distinguished by the time that elapses between sound emission and an echo at each frequency in the FM sweep.
The bat determines target range or distance from these spectrogram delays by storing the volley of discharges representing the emission and then comparing it with the pattern formed upon the reception of the echo. Remember that the bat’s auditory system has a 3.
If a moth reflects two echo components 5. However, such a spectrogram will show two peaks and a notch. The notch is caused by spectral interference and appears at regular frequency intervals, according to the different times of arrival of different glints.
To the ear, these notches indicated brief dips in the amount of auditory receptor excitation occurring at specific frequencies. The net effect is a scalloped appearance of the echo spectrogram. Experimental studies of echolocation at Brown University and California Institute of Technology have progressed to the point of developing a model sonar receiver based on a bat that has a simple geometric structure ideal for VLSI (very large scale integrated) chips, capable of real- time operation. Possible applications of these chips are in sensing and communication, including locating and classifying radar and sonar targets, determining propagation times of seismic phenomena, and distinguishing multipath reverberation in complex acoustic environments. Daily and Nightly Activity. Bats typically seek shelter in roosts during the daytime and are active on the wing at night departing their roosts shortly after sunset and returning before sunrise. The timing of nightly departure and return is closely synchronized with light levels and is associated with seasonal changes in day length.
One or more feeding periods may occur on a given night, depending on food availability and the temperature of the night air.
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